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Micah Parsons Shines In First Collegiate Start

No. 14 Penn State football’s linebacking corps looked a bit different at the start of Saturday’s 20-7 victory over Rutgers.

True freshman Micah Parsons made his first collegiate start for the Nittany Lions in the absence of Cam Brown. The junior regularly starts at the position, but head coach James Franklin said he didn’t feature throughout the first half of Saturday’s game due to a “minor” violation of team rules.

There wasn’t too much of an adjustment process for the former five-star recruit — he’s gotten a ton of reps early in his college career without earning a spot in the starting lineup. However, he was excellent against the Scarlet Knights throughout Saturday’s game.

Parsons finished the game with seven tackles — second only behind fellow starting linebackers Koa Farmer and Jan Johnson. He made his presence felt throughout the game with two tackles-for-loss and a strip sack of Rutgers’ quarterback Artur Sitkowski in the first half. 

“Micah did really well,” Johnson said postgame. “He was able to shoot some gaps and make some really good plays. I think he was excited to get his first start — his strongest point is his ability to play fast, he just needs to make sure he’s in the right gap all the time.”

Earlier this season, Franklin called Parsons “an interesting guy” in terms of his personality off the field. Senior safety Nick Scott backed this up with a story from before the start of the season.

Scott said that the linebacker likened himself to a “killer,” but his ultimate goal is to become a “trained assassin” by the end of his collegiate career. Parsons began his Penn State career as a “killer.” He would get to the ball and makes plays effectively, but sometimes, he’d abandon his assigned gap to do so. He wants to become a “trained assassin” and make those great plays while in his gap by the end of his time in Happy Valley.

“I’m a little bit sloppy,” Parsons said, according to Scott’s recollection of the story. “I want to make the play, but I may leave the scene a mess. By the time I get out of here, I want to be a trained assassin — I want to get the job done, and I want it to be extremely clean.”

The team’s defensive captain respected that different approach that Parsons takes to his growth and development. Parsons is only 11 games into his collegiate career, but Scott already sees him growing into a player because of that “killer” attitude.

“I don’t think that should be taken negatively at all,” Scott said. “That was a great analogy, and I can see his growth. He started by just wanting to get the ball and maybe leaving his gap to do that. Now, he trusts his eyes, his rules, and everything like that, and he makes his plays.”

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About the Author

Mikey Mandarino

In the most upsetting turn of events, Mikey graduated from Penn State with a digital & print journalism degree in the spring of 2020. He covered Penn State football and served as an editor for Onward State from 2018 until his graduation. Mikey is from Bedminster, New Jersey, so naturally, he spends lots of time yelling about all the best things his home state has to offer. Mikey also loves to play golf, but he sucks at it because golf is really hard. If you, for some reason, feel compelled to see what Mikey has to say on the internet, follow him on Twitter @Mikey_Mandarino. You can also get in touch with Mikey via his big-boy email address: [email protected]

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