STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — All eyes were on Micah Parsons at Penn State on Saturday throughout the Nittany Lions’ 7-on-7 tournament. The 5-star recruit delivered an MVP performance, leading Harrisburg (Pa.) High School to a championship in an event that featured 55 teams and approximately 1,000 players.
The 6-foot-3, 235-pound prospect outlasted competitors despite probably playing more snaps than anyone in attendance. Parsons lined up at linebacker, defensive back, tight end and receiver during a dominant performance, further validating his status as one of the nation’s premier players.
Considered the No. 4 overall recruit in 247Sports’ 2018 composite rankings, he remained focused despite an obvious spotlight in Happy Valley. Parsons spent more than a year pledged to Penn State before backing off that verbal commitment April 22, one day after attending the Nittany Lions’ spring game.
A week after that decision, Parsons told Land of 10 he needed a “fresh start”.
“I had an amazing [time at the spring game] but just wasn’t 100-percent sure I wanted to [sign with Penn State],” he said.
Penn State has welcomed him back to campus multiple times since his de-commitment, but this latest return trip separated itself considering the circumstances.
Parsons, who caught several passes and provided shutdown defense in the secondary during a 16-14 victory over Coatesville (Pa.) High in the “Lion Strong” tournament title clash, joined teammates in a raucous celebration at midfield.
Moments later, Nittany Lions coach James Franklin handed him the tournament MVP trophy.
Parsons received an offer from Penn State in November 2014, before finishing his freshman season. He issued a pledge to the program last February, and remained the class’ marquee member for 14 months.
This MVP honor is just the latest accolade in high school career loaded with athletic achievements.
Parsons erupted for 190 tackles — 47 for loss — and 32 sacks through his first two prep campaigns. He secured 17 tackles for loss and 10 sacks last season, according to Aaron Carr of PennLive.com.
“He’s someone you want in your corner; just a great player,” Nittany Lions DE commit Dorian Hardy told Land of 10 this spring.
Parsons will compete at The Opening later this month. The annual invite-only showcase, held June 28-July in Beaverton, Ore., at Nike’s world headquarters, presents another opportunity for him to display tremendous promise.
“I have the ability to speed rush, dominate my opponent and hold down my side of the field,” he said after The Opening’s New Jersey regional camp in April.
That’s exactly what he did Saturday.
However, instead of attacking from defensive front, Parsons shut down intermediate passing lanes and smothered receivers downfield. He spent a majority of the championship game lined up at cornerback, and didn’t look uncomfortable against a Coatesville passing attack that shredded defenses it previously faced.
Harrisburg head coach Calvin Everett could be heard across the field following the win. He encouraged Harrisburg teammates to acknowledge Parsons’ willingness to compete at multiple positions.
Perhaps more impressive than his defensive efforts, Parsons displayed a reliable pair of hands on offense. He became a focal point for Harrisburg, using his physicality to shield defenders and plucking passes with outstanding coordination for a player accustomed to other on-field duties.
Parsons capped off a quarterfinal victory with an interception and touchdown reception on consecutive plays.
— Tyler Donohue (@TDsTake) June 17, 2017
It’s worth noting Parsons made a substantial offensive impact last autumn, perhaps overshadowed by the hype that surrounds his collegiate potential on defense. He rushed for 10 touchdowns, helping guide Harrisburg to its first state title game in school history.
Parsons also provided key performances on the basketball court, emerging as a pivotal component of a district champion. He also excelled during spring track season, exhibiting athleticism that places him among the rare talents of this college football recruiting cycle.
— Timothy Johnson (@tjj5009) May 13, 2017
Any time Parsons steps foot in State College, abundant attention accompanies his arrival. He surely felt it as a Nittany Lions commit, including a spring game experience that featured 71,000 fans, and it still follows him despite the uncertainty of whether or not he will spend the next few years on campus.
Along with Penn State, Parsons shared in late May there are eight other programs under consideration. The list features Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Miami, Michigan, Nebraska and Ohio State.
Yards beyond the end zone, a cluster of coaches’ golf carts sat parked during a tournament championship performance that solidified Parsons’ MVP status. The Penn State staff was watching closely. Expect that to remain the approach through National Signing Day.