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Micah Parsons’ Performance Against Pitt Among His Finest As A Nittany Lion

Sophomore linebacker Micah Parsons has proven time and again that his whirlwind recruitment was 1000% worth it, and he did just that again on Saturday afternoon.

Parsons finished the game with a Penn State-leading nine tackles and two tackles-for-loss in the Nittany Lions’ 17-10 victory over Pitt. He also added a pass break-up that showcased his freak athleticism and length and registered one hit on Kenny Pickett during the game.

In the early stages of the game, Parsons was everywhere on the field. That was on full display when he broke up Kenny Pickett’s dart of a pass to Maurice Ffrench. Pitt’s dynamic slot receiver was wide open down the seam because of Penn State’s zone coverage, but the linebacker leapt as high as he could to swat the ball off its path and away from danger.

It seemed like Pitt’s ball-carriers didn’t stand a chance against Parsons in one-on-one situations. Pickett, running back AJ Davis, and tight end Nakia Griffin-Stewart were among the former five-star recruit’s victims in the open field at various times throughout the game.

Parsons is a special talent from an athletic standpoint, but his instincts and football IQ have tremendously improved throughout Saturday’s contest. Senior linebacker Jan Johnson has definitely taken notice of these changes.

“I can remember in the first quarter, Micah made I don’t know how many plays,” Johnson said. “He was executing pretty well, he made lots of plays, and he was a factor in the pass rush in that second half.”

Although Penn State’s pass-rush wasn’t firing on all cylinders throughout the game, Parsons played a big role in applying pressure on Pickett and the Pitt offensive line throughout the second half.

Parsons won’t be able to definitively evaluate his performance until he breaks down some of the film, but he said he was satisfied with how he, Johnson, Cam Brown, and the rest of Penn State’s linebackers played as a whole on Saturday.

“I think we played really well as a unit. We played strong and were a dominant force with the defense,” Parsons said postgame. We try to joke with the safeties — ‘hey, I don’t think y’all are getting any tackles today.’ [Pitt’s ball-carriers] didn’t get past the linebackers today, and we take a lot of pride in that.”

The 6’3″, 245-pound linebacker plays with tons of passion and emotion on any given week, but that was amplified by even more because of the magnitude of Saturday’s game. The announced crowd of 108,661 fans, Stripe Out theme, and significance of the 100th (and potentially final meeting) between Penn State and Pitt brought even more emotion out of Parsons.

“In a game like this, you have to bring a lot of love and passion for it,” he said. “You don’t really get too many opportunities to play in front of 108,000 people. You got to bring a lot of love, a lot of passion for a game like this. This is a special place.”

Although he balled out on a huge stage, Parsons doesn’t think he should feel satisfied yet. He wants to keep “going hard” in order to improve and get better down the road. The thought of a version of Micah Parsons that’s better than the one who made nine stops against Pitt is a scary thought for any opposing running backs and wide receivers in the Big Ten.

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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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