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Micah Parsons Wants To Wrestle For Penn State

Arguably the greatest linebacker in football history, Ray Lewis is known for (among other things) attributing his success on the gridiron to his time wrestling in high school.

Although he only began competing as a sophomore, Lewis was a state and national champion at Kathleen High School in Florida. He even has said that he enjoyed wrestling more than playing football. Lewis credits wrestling for teaching him the importance of staying low, using his butt and his hips to his advantage, and handfighting effectively — all skills he applied during his long and accomplished NFL career.

It appears another young linebacker also appreciates wrestling’s one-on-one, hand-to-hand combat. Penn State freshman linebacker Micah Parsons has an urge to get back on the mat, according to James Franklin.

“Micah wants to play linebacker, he wants to play running back, and he wants to wrestle for [Penn State wrestling coach] Cael [Sanderson], and he’s not kidding,” Franklin said on his weekly conference call while discussing the linebacker prodigy’s versatility and eagerness. 

Franklin said that Parsons has even already talked to Sanderson about the possibility of returning to the sport, which he excelled at while he was growing up.  Before high school, Parsons placed second in the Pennsylvania Junior Wrestling Association tournament, losing in the finals to eventual two-time PIAA state champion and current Pitt wrestler Cole Nye.

I mean, just take a look at the grown-man quads on that 187-lb. seventh grader. They’re practically bursting through his singlet. Imagine what he’d look like now that he actually is a grown man.

Before Parsons’ senior year of high school, he made headlines suggesting he wanted to return to the mat before graduating. He even earned a vote of confidence from Nye, who he was still working out with as recently as 2016.

Parsons never actually wrestled for Harrisburg, but he did turn in an impressive senior season as a basketball player. He averaged more than 10 points per game on the hardwood as a junior and senior.

Listed at 240 lbs., Parsons projects as a heavyweight and would likely resemble a young Kyle Snyder with his lean muscle, athleticism, and speed. In a wide open weight class, Parsons could certainly hold his own on the mat this season.

Unfortunately for Parsons, though, Penn State has its guy at heavyweight. And a proven backup. As it is, Sanderson barely has enough spots in his lineup for the student athletes who actually come to Penn State to wrestle — unlike the 2016 wrestling season, when linebacker Jan Johnson suited up to fill in at heavyweight for a depleted Nittany Lions team.

But just the thought of Parsons tossing guys around Rec Hall just for the fun of it is too wonderful to ignore.

In reality, there’s probably more of a need for Sanderson’s wrestlers to lace up on Franklin’s team, given the team’s tackling woes this season. Parsons, Franklin, defensive coordinator Brent Pry, and freshman linebacker Jesse Luketa all tweeted at two-time national champion Bo Nickal following his dramatic, team title-clinching turn and fall at the NCAA Championships last year.

They suggested he join the football team and help them “train every day to be an NCAA Champion and win team titles at Penn State, because that’s what we do!”

If what Lewis praises about wrestling is true, Nickal would surely be a welcome addition to Linebacker U, given how bad Penn State’s defense has been at tackling this season. As unlikely as that pivot is, perhaps Franklin could still reach out to Nickal to offer a few pointers to his players on how to get low, use their butts and hips, and properly handfight.

Because at this point, anything would help on defense.

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About the Author

Anthony Colucci

Anthony Colucci was once Onward State’s managing editor and preferred walk-on honors student who majored in psychology and public relations. Despite being from the make-believe land of Central Jersey, he was never a Rutgers fan. If you ever want to know how good Saquon Barkley's ball security is, ask Anthony what happened when he tried to force a fumble at the Mifflin Streak. If you want to hear the story or are bored and want to share prequel memes, follow @_anthonycolucci on Twitter or email him at [email protected] All other requests and complaints should be directed to Onward State media contact emeritus Steve Connelly.

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