True Freshman Micah Parsons Growing Into Bigger Role On Defense
Penn State’s defense was gashed for more than 200 yards on the ground during the first half of Saturday’s game against Pitt.
While the unit only allowed six points in that half, James Franklin shuffled around his linebacking corps before the second half, giving freshman Micah Parsons a more prominent role after the break.
Parsons made the most of his expanded role, leading the defense with seven tackles — including four within a yard of the line of scrimmage. The adjustment helped stymie the Pitt offense, as the Panthers failed to cross the 50-yard line in the second half.
While Parsons was recruited as a defensive end, his knack for finding the ball has transitioned to his new role at linebacker. That said, Parsons is still learning the fundamentals of his new position.
“There’s a lot of things from a fundamental standpoint that he’s got to get better at, even just stance and start,” Coach James Franklin said. “He stands way too upright in there and needs more knee bend, so he can be more efficient with his movements.”
Given Parsons’ natural playmaking ability, it’s only a matter of time until he becomes fully acquainted with his new position.
“I just see him getting more confident and more comfortable with all of the responsibilities that come with playing the linebacker position,” Franklin said.
Expectations were always going to be high for Parsons, a five-star prospect whose recruitment could’ve doubled as a reality TV show. Even fellow linebacker Jan Johnson was at a loss for words when trying to describe his freshman teammate.
“I think he plays incredibly fast,” Johnson said. “He’s super strong, he’s an incredible blitzer. I mean, he’s only 18 years old. His body is still growing, he’s still growing mentally. He’s going to be faster and he’s going to know the defense better, and I don’t know what his ceiling would be.”
The sky is the limit for Parsons. As the season progresses, he’ll be more involved in the defense and more comfortable at the linebacker position. His freakish athleticism might just be the spark that Nittany Lions defense needs to put it over the top.
Parsons and No. 11 Penn State will be back in action on Saturday when Kent State travels to Beaver Stadium. The Nittany Lions’ final non-conference game of the season kicks off at noon.
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