Micah Parsons on Penn State return: Thinking about it – 247Sports

Micah Parsons puts fear into opposing offenses throughout college football. The otherworldly linebacker opted out of the college football season to focus on the NFL Draft prior to the Big Ten’s decision to bring football back this fall.

Parsons already declared for the draft and signed with an agent so it appears a return is not in the cards. At least, so people think.

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According to a report from Tom VanHaaren of ESPN, Parsons isn’t ruling out a return to Penn State this fall, somehow.

“I was told Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons is ‘thinking about it’ and weighing options on if he wants to opt back in for the season or not,” VanHaaren tweeted. “He declared for the draft and signed with an agent, so he would have some hoops to jump through to get back his eligibility.”

Prior to VanHaaren’s report on Thursday, Parsons sent out another cryptic tweet. He sent one out on Wednesday after the Big Ten announced they would bring football back in October.

“At this age I never seen so many hard decisions I’ve been faced with!,” Parsons tweeted.

On Thursday afternoon, James Franklin stoked the fires ever-slightly when he told the media that there’s always a door open for a talent like Parsons to return to the fold.

The would-be true junior, who said he is on track to get his degree in December, signed with agents Andre Odom and David Mulugheta of Athletes First shortly after his announcement last month. While rules have yet to be established regarding the eligibility of players who signed with agents (Parsons is reportedly one of six Big Ten prospects that has signed with an agent according to the NFLPA), there has been buzz that the NCAA would consider allowing those players to return to school after going through the proper channels.

“Well, you always keep the door open but, um, I think there’s obviously a big difference between somebody that opted out a week ago compared to somebody that opted out multiple weeks ago,” Franklin said on a conference call with reporters. “It just it makes it more complicated. So it was pretty fun hitting Micah up right after it happened and watching all the fans go crazy.

“So we’ll see… we’ll see how it all plays out, but obviously it makes it more complicated the longer they’ve been gone. But I also know that Micah, as well as others, probably wouldn’t be in this situation, if it wasn’t for the circumstances that we’re under. I don’t think that anybody — the NCAA, the Big Ten, Penn State specifically, can just put this back in to the same box that it’s always been in, because nothing right now is like it’s always been.

“As you know I’m a positive guy, so I’m going to see if there’s a way we can work it out and get him back here if it’s in everybody’s best interest, most importantly Micah’s.”

Back in August, prior to the Big Ten’s initial postponement of the football season, Parsons released a statement explaining his decision and giving his thanks to Penn State.

“I’d like to begin by saying thank you,” Parsons began in a video posted to Instagram on Thursday afternoon. “You’ve given me an opportunity of a lifetime to achieve my dreams and aspirations. I have made connections with my teammates that will last a lifetime. For that, I will forever be grateful.

“Nittany Nation took a chance and welcomed a kid from Harrisburg with open arms, stood by me and supported me. Without Coach (James) Franklin and Coach (Brent) Pry, as well as the entire Penn State coaching staff, I would not be where I am today. You all allowed me to grow into the young man I have always wanted to be. Before arriving on campus, I was only a kid from Harrisburg with a dream. My dream was to receive a degree from a prestigious institution and prepare for the opportunity to play at the highest level — the NFL. My opportunity has finally arrived.”

Parsons is coming off a decorated sophomore season in Happy Valley, which saw him earn consensus All-America honors while becoming the first sophomore in Big Ten history to win the Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year award. He appeared in 13 games with 12 starts, amassing 109 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, five sacks, four quarterback hurries, five pass breakups and four forced fumbles.

The 6-foot-3, 245-pounder was an immediate contributor as a true freshman in 2018, becoming the first freshman in program history to lead the team in tackles in a season. He finished the year with 83 tackles, five tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and two forced fumbles over 13 games.

Parsons is widely considered one of the top prospects in next year’s NFL Draft, regardless of position. Pro Football Focus draft analyst Mike Renner called him the best linebacker prospect in nearly a decade.

“Over the past decade, only seven off-ball linebackers have been taken with a top-10 pick in the NFL draft,” Renner wrote in June. “But barring injury or a surprise return to school, there will be another in 2021 — Penn State’s Micah Parsons. And he isn’t just any top-10 pick — he’s the closest thing to a linebacker prototype since Luke Kuechly coming out of Boston College back in 2012.

“Parsons has ideal size, athleticism and production for a linebacker prospect, and he was only a sophomore last season. If he could have declared for the 2020 NFL Draft, the chances are he would have been selected before Isaiah Simmons.”

A former five-star recruit out of Harrisburg High School in Harrisburg, Pa., Parsons was ranked as the No. 5 overall prospect and No. 2 weak-side defensive end in the country for the 2018 class, according to the 247Sports Composite. He was also the top-ranked player in Pennsylvania.

Lions 247’s Tyler Donohue contributed to this story.