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Expectations mount for 5-star Penn State signee Micah Parsons
Micah Parsons was easily the most highly discussed 2018 prospect among Penn State football fans during a recruitment that spanned three years. Now, slightly more than a month into the 5-star recruit’s life as a collegiate student-athlete, things haven’t exactly quieted down.
Parsons, a 6-foot-3, 240-pound Harrisburg (Pa.) product, created a stir Dec. 20 when he signed with the Nittany Lions. Penn State coach James Franklin provided another compelling dynamic hours later, announcing his top-ranked recruit would compete for starting duties at middle linebacker right away.
Parsons is ranked the 2018 cycle’s No. 1 weakside defensive recruit in the 247Sports composite, but he spent plenty of high school snaps in a stand-up role. His defensive versatility, along with dominance at running back, commanded attention from coaching staffs across college football.
“I have the ability to speed rush, dominate my opponent and hold down my side of the field,” he told Land of 10 last April after earning defensive line MVP honors at The Opening’s New Jersey regional camp.
Named the 2017 U.S. Army All-American Bowl Defensive Player of the Year, Parsons spent most of his high school career in the spotlight. He burst onto the recruiting scene as a freshmen, totaling 121 tackles, including 27 for loss, and 18 1/2 sacks.
“There is no doubt in my mind he could play defensive end. We have a challenge that we need to solve some linebacker depth issues that we have,” Franklin said. “We think with him graduating early, he’s got a chance to kind of learn it and have a chance to truly compete for the job come the fall. So it’s a combination of both. It’s a talent, but it’s also a need.”
Parsons, the program’s top-rated signee since 2005, is in an incredibly competitive battle for the starting linebacker role. The Nittany Lions return Koa Farmer but must replace a pair of starters in Manny Bowen and team captain Jason Cabinda.
LaVar Arrington pays respect to the newest No. 11
These battles will be in the spotlight during spring camp and into summer training, but it’s clear Parsons has the potential to create his own chapter in the Linebacker U legacy. LaVar Arrington, a legendary figure of this lineage, reacted swiftly upon learning Parsons will wear the same No. 11 Arrington wore.
Arrington, who also starred at running back as a prep player, also encountered plenty of fanfare upon arriving at Penn State. He developed into an All-American, a Bednarik Award (college football’s best defender) winner and would become the No. 2 overall NFL draft pick in 2000.
Along with his video post, Arrington set an extremely high bar with recent Instagram thoughts.
“This young man will grow into a fine man and lead this team,” Arrington wrote. “What better number as a LB at LBU? … It must be two 1’s. So here’s my bold proclamation … Micah will be the best that ever put 11 on. LBU is alive and well.”
So, yeah, there’s a tiny bit of pressure on Parsons in Happy Valley.
Penn State staff: So far, so good
Last week, Franklin provided his first public impressions of the new Nittany Lions during a National Signing Day media session.
“Parsons is what we thought. He’s strong, he’s explosive, he’s fast,” Franklin said.
Penn State defensive coordinator Brent Pry issued a social media shout-out for Parsons on Thursday morning while accessing his performance during winter workouts.
— Brent Pry (@CoachPry_LBU) February 15, 2018
Parsons responded with a Twitter statement of his own.
“Let’s get it coach!! I ain’t come early to not work for that No. 1 spot,” he wrote.
It’s early, and Parsons won’t take his first rep in a Penn State uniform until spring. But it’s become increasingly apparent he isn’t your average freshman.
“Micah, from my point of view — he’s a once-in-a-generation type of athlete,” Harrisburg coach Calvin Everett said in a National Signing Day profile published by Penn State. “There are very few things he cannot do — and cannot do well —on a football field.”
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