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Micah Parsons Ready To Carry On Linebacker U Legacy

Though it’s still early in his college career, Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons has earned justified comparisons to program legend LaVar Arrington.

These comparisons are only natural because Parsons adopted his jersey No. 11, but they go far beyond this simple aesthetic. In his prime, Arrington was a force to be reckoned with. He was a freak athlete capable of closing down his opponents in any situation and rarely lost 1-on-1 engagements with opposing ball-carriers. Sound familiar?

Parsons showcased his immense talent by leading the Nittany Lions in tackles with 82 last year. His well-documented circus of a recruiting cycle was well worth it, but you can make the argument that Parsons hasn’t even scratched the surface yet.

The rising sophomore made just one start, but he was almost always the first linebacker off the bench. Though he played as much as anybody in the linebacker room, Parsons is all the better for not being in the starting lineup.

“[Not starting] was definitely a benefit,” Parsons said. “It made me stay hungry. It made me make sure to capitalize on all my opportunities whenever I went out there. It was probably a blessing — to be in a position to even play that much as a freshman was amazing.”

Parsons’ skill as a linebacker will obviously contribute to him earning a starting role, but it won’t be the only reason why. He’s grown from a self-proclaimed “bizarre kid” into a mature player and student.

This improvement hasn’t gone unnoticed among his teammates.

“I think he’s made tremendous strides,” rising senior linebacker Cam Brown said. “From the beginning of his freshman year to now, he’s a whole different person. I feel like he knows what he’s doing — he’s sharp, and he can teach other players. He’s giving to the program more than just on the field.”

“He’s probably a little bit more vocal now,” veteran cornerback John Reid said. “He’s gotten more reps and snaps, so he can help more guys out. I expect him to keep making plays and keep playing fast and aggressive.”

At the start of spring, head coach James Franklin said Parsons boasted a 3.56 GPA in the past two semesters and gave him tons of credit for making improvements in all facets of his life. Whether it’s dealing with the media or being willing to learn from Franklin and defensive coordinator Brent Pry, the outside linebacker has done it all.

“Once I got here, I had an opportunity to show people I was more than just a football player and a bizarre kid on social media,” Parsons said. “Obviously, I wanted to show that I was real good with my academics, and I wanted to come in as a focused football player and become a better person and athlete.”

Simply put, Parsons’ mentality has paid off. Saying he isn’t short on confidence at this point is an understatement, but that confidence isn’t just limited to himself and his own game. He has his sights set on winning conference and national championships during his time with the Nittany Lions and feels like he’s surrounded by players good enough to make those dreams a reality.

Improving his footwork, finishing plays, and making better reads in the backfield are among the things Parsons wants to work on this offseason. He clearly has the talent to make an impact, but improving his fundamentals even a little bit could push him to elite — and maybe even legendary — status.

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About the Author

Mikey Mandarino

Mikey is a senior majoring in journalism and Onward State's Sports Editor. He grew up in Bedminster, NJ and is way too obnoxious about all the best things his home state has to offer. Mikey loves to play golf, but he sucks at it because golf is hard. If you're dying to see more hockey/golf content on your timeline, you can follow Mikey on Twitter @mikey_mandarino. Send all hate mail, death threats, and your vote for the best chicken parm in State College to [email protected]

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