Penn State’s Micah Parsons had a marvelous season in 2019.
The Harrisburg native led the Nittany Lions in tackles on his way to becoming an All-American and the Big Ten linebacker of the year. With that success, it could be comfortable to rest, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage the world.
But Parsons isn’t resting at all. The 20-year-old is working hard, and Penn State defensive coordinator and linebacker coach Brent Pry confirmed Parsons has loftier goals for whenever football returns.
“I’m pleased with his development to this point,” Pry said Tuesday via video conference. “He’s eager, he’s determined, and that never wavers. He’s one of those guys that you want to cover the best back, the best tight end and off the edge; you’d like to have him in a couple of different places, so maximizing what he can do for us every snap is essential.”
At 6 foot 3 and 245 pounds, Parsons presents rare challenges for offensive coordinators. He’s as quick as he is powerful. He’s a sound tackler with enough quickness to close in on a shifty running back. He has enough muscle to shed opposing blockers on his way to the quarterback.
Plans to use him more: As well as Parsons performed in 2019, the player and his coach have a question for 2020.
“It was brought up quite a bit in our offseason self-scout,” Pry said. “How can we use Micah more, and get him in the best position to be successful?”
One of the glaring things that likely came up during the internal evaluation was the fact that Parsons hadn’t had an interception yet. The 109 tackles, which included 14 for loss, and five sacks were impressive. But the next step in his evolution could be putting Parsons in situations to get a pick or two.
“He’s obviously a rare talent, and his best football is ahead of him,” Pry said. “As he continues to grow and develop in the meeting room, and work habits, and grow and mature as a college football player, we’re going to see a better Micah Parsons out there each week.”
May come off edge: Parsons is a linebacker today. But it’s important to remember that he was a defensive end for his prep career. Perhaps we’ll see Parsons flying off the edge on a third-and-10 situation in the fall.
“His rush ability is one of his best traits,” Pry said. “I think we can see some improvement there, and get a little more mileage with how good he is coming off the edge and through those gaps.”
Pry alluded to the Cotton Bowl game in Dallas against Memphis at the end of last season. Parsons was all over the field and forced two fumbles to go along with two sacks and 14 tackles . His stock rose in scouting circles with the way he ended the season.
“The boy is special. We already knew that. But the way he stepped in that bowl game was telling,” an NFC West scout told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He was already on the radar, but that game showed so much about him.
“It wasn’t a playoff game. You’d be surprised how many guys don’t show up when they aren’t playing for a title. But he looked like a leader. That’s what you want to see.”