As part of National Letter of Intent Signing Day, Times Shamrock newspapers’ Penn State football beat writer Donnie Collins is breaking down every member of Penn State’s 2018 recruiting class. This is a look at two-way standout Micah Parsons, who is ranked as the No. 5 overall prospect in the nation by 247sports.
School: Harrisburg HS
Projected position: Middle linebacker/Defensive end
Ranking: Five stars by 247sports, Rivals.com and ESPN
Status: Signed LOI in December; Enrolled Spring 2018
Other offers: Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Miami (Fla.) Michigan, Nebraska, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oregon, Oklahoma, Rutgers, Syracuse, Temple, Tennessee, USC, West Virginia.
Projection: Parsons was a second-team All-USA pick on defense by USA Today as a senior and finished the 2017 season with 55 tackles, 17.5 TFLs and 10.5 sacks on defense and also rushed for 1,239 yards and 29 touchdowns on offense. He’s the consensus No. 1 prospect in Pennsylvania, and a top 10 prospect in the nation by any conservative estimate. And that only begins to tell the story. For his size, Parsons’ speed is ungodly. Watch his film as a running back in high school — and he played in a really good, big-school league — and you see what you’d expect, a 6-foot-3, 240-pound man running over some kids. But Parsons also runs around them, and past them, and jukes them, and he’s accelerating toward the end of his runs. Most figured he’d be a defensive end prospect at the college level, and he’d have made an impact there immediately if Penn State needed him to. But head coach James Franklin said in December that he planned to use Parsons this spring at middle linebacker, and that’s really the spot where his skills would best be put to the test. He’ll be able to use his sideline-to-sideline speed to run down ball carriers, and there’s no reason he won’t be really good in pass coverage, too, once he learns the schemes. Learning that to the point where he can start as a true freshman is easier said than done, but Parsons is the type of athlete that almost always makes a big impact. Worst-case scenario, he becomes a pass-rushing end who will be a force on special teams. But even that type of career will be a disappointment, given how gifted he is athletically. Best-case scenario: He’s an NFL-caliber, every down linebacker who could also make an impact at DE and on offense. And he’ll be that way the moment he starts his first camp.