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Former Penn State pledge Micah Parsons puts Nittany Lions on list of favorites
We’ve been reporting since late April that all isn’t lost in Penn State’s pursuit of 5-star DE Micah Parsons. The in-state standout, considered the No. 1 weakside defensive end and No. 3 overall recruit in 247Sports’ 2018 composite rankings, previously spent 14 months committed to coach James Franklin.
Parsons, a 6-foot-3, 235-pound prospect from Harrisburg (Pa.) High School, pledged to the Nittany Lions in February 2016. That verbal pact lasted until last month, when he stated the desire for a “fresh start” in his recruitment process shortly after visiting Happy Valley for spring game festivities.
Parsons decided to update his recruitment Friday night, announcing nine top college options. As expected, Penn State made the cut — but there is substantial competition:
— BLESSEDMVP (@Micah_parsons23) May 27, 2017
Along with the Nittany Lions, he is still weighing offers from Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Miami, Michigan, Nebraska and Ohio State. He is set to visit at least a few of those schools this summer.
Parsons will travel to Alabama and Florida alongside Harrisburg teammate Shaquon Anderson-Butts, a 3-star receiver recruit who also holds an offer from Penn State. Both players acknowledged they may ultimate become a “package deal” by concluding their respective recruitments in the same class.
Anderson-Butts plans to be back in State College on June 17 for the “Lion Strong” 7-on-7 tournament. He told Land of 10 legitimate mutual interest remains in place between Penn State and Parsons.
“It’s kind of getting back to normal now for Micah,” Anderson-Butts said. “He still talks to Penn State, so it’s not like he just de-committed and didn’t want to deal with those coaches anymore. Everybody is understanding, and everybody is cool with it.”
Parsons, recognized last week as male high school athlete of the year by PennLive.com, told Land of 10 he intends to use all five official visits before issuing another commitment. He aims to take two trips during his senior season, and follow those with three campus visits when winter arrives.
Ohio State welcomed him to Columbus just one week before his April 23 de-commitment. The Buckeyes have since become leader in the 247Sports crystal ball, claiming 63 percent of experts’ predictions.
Parsons, an impact player off the defensive edge, provides a disruptive force with his hand in the dirt or out of a stand-up position. He tallied 64 tackles for loss and 42 sacks during his first three prep campaigns.
“I have the ability to speed rush, dominate my opponent and hold down my side of the field,” Parsons said.
From the bottom I came, now I run this game. Literally‼️ eat or starve 🏴 pic.twitter.com/tS4vKmrbjP
— BLESSEDMVP (@Micah_parsons23) May 5, 2017
He can further validate his status as No. 1 D-line recruit at The Opening finals, held June 28-July 3 in Beaverton, Ore., at Nike’s world headquarters. Penn State can probably count on some peer recruiting in the Pacific Northwest, as Nittany Lions commits such as RB Ricky Slade and WR Justin Shorter are also on that event roster.
“Hopefully after he has a chance to visit these other schools, Micah will come back to Penn State and feel like it’s home again,” Shorter said. “It would be awesome to have him back with us because his talent is crazy.”
Future Nittany Lions show off athleticism in state finals
The Pennsylvania track and field championships occurred Friday and Saturday at Shippensburg University, allowing a pair of Penn State football prospects to showcase their skills.
Incoming freshman RB Journey Brown and 2018 tight end commit Zack Kuntz each earned state titles, providing an early peek at what they’ll bring to the Nittany Lions offensive attack.
Brown, a 5-11, 194-pound speedster, set a new Pennsylvania prep record by completing the 100-meter dash finals in 10.43 seconds. This result bested the time of Leroy Burrell, who clocked a 10.44 sprint in 1985.
Burrell went on to become one of the world’s most successful track competitors, claiming at gold medal at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. Brown aims to translate that quickness as a ball-carrier at Penn State.
A late addition to Franklin’s 2017 recruiting class, he enjoyed exceptional production at Meadville Area High. Brown rushed for 7,027 yards and 104 touchdowns, according to 247Sports, capping his prep career with 2,791 yards and 46 scores last season.
He expressed intentions to continue his track career at State College during a post-race conversation with Ed Farrell of the Meadville Tribune.
“It’s not gonna stop here,” Brown said. “I’m still gonna try to run track in college, play football and just start the next chapter of my life.”
Though he was only considered a 3-star recruit, there’s a chance Brown emerges as a breakout surprise when his time comes in the Nittany Lions backfield. Penn State will welcome him to a running back room that features Heisman Trophy candidate Saquon Barkley and promising sophomore Miles Sanders.
Franklin and his staff can also expect an influx of talent at tight end moving forward, as Kuntz is one of two top-10 prospects at the position pledged to Penn State’s 2018 class.
Considered a 4-star talent and No. 3 overall among tight ends in composite rankings, this 6-8, 221-pound playmaker cruised past the competition in 110-meter hurdles finals. He finished the event in 14.47 seconds, and looked like a man among boys en route to top honors.
— Ryan Baillargeon (@RyanBaillargeon) May 27, 2017
Kuntz stayed busy during the weekend, also competing for state titles in the high jump and 300-meter hurdles. He finished seventh and third, respectively, in those events.
Prepared to enroll early at Penn State, per Greg Pickel of PennLive.com, Kuntz could become an instant contender to replace starting TE Mike Gesicki, a senior. Big shoes will be left behind by Gesicki, who set single-season school records at the position for receptions and receiving yards last year.
“Zack is a smooth route runner and pass catcher,” said Ronny Torres, The Opening’s player personnel director for tight ends and receivers. “He also has the ability to spread out wide sometimes, or line up in the slot.”
Last week for Kuntz was certainly one to remember. Along with sealing his legacy as a high school track standout, he earned an invitation to The Opening finals Wednesday.
Despite missing multiple games as a junior, Kuntz has 107 career catches at Camp Hill High, per MaxPreps. Those receptions resulted in 1,648 yards and 18 touchdowns.