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James Franklin ‘Not Surprised’ By Micah Parsons & Odafe Oweh’s NFL Success

Penn State football is no stranger to sending stars to the next level. With nearly 40 Nittany Lions currently on NFL rosters, James Franklin and his coaching staff have helped build on a strong identity of developing pro-ready players.

Two of the NFL’s top first-year defenders up to this point are both Happy Valley products. Micah Parsons and Odafe Oweh have taken the league by storm up to this point for their respective squads, and they’re both among Pro Football Focus’ top-rated rookies.

Parsons has grabbed nine total tackles for his Dallas Cowboys thus far and even earned his first professional sack this past weekend against the Los Angeles Chargers. The stud linebacker is already proving Dallas right in selecting him No. 12 overall, but his former head coach feels it was a surprise he even fell that far.

“You guys know, we all know, what a difference-maker [Micah] is,” Franklin said. “I think he was a steal at 12. I think Dallas got a steal.”

The Harrisburg native left Penn State with 192 total tackles, 6.5 sacks, and six forced fumbles over the course of just a two-year career. Parsons was widely regarded as one of the top defensive prospects coming out of college football this past spring, as he was the first linebacker taken in the draft.

As for Oweh, the defensive end had a few more questions coming out of college after not earning a sack during his final season at Penn State, but he’s proven himself plenty with the Ravens so far.

The No. 31 overall pick and Baltimore’s first selection in the draft, Oweh has five total tackles and one sack for John Harbaugh’s group so far. He was even named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week Monday after totaling three tackles against the Kansas City Chiefs. Most notably in that contest, Oweh forced and recovered the game-winning fumble.

“[Odafe], obviously there’s a lot of conversations about him and his athleticism, and maybe a lot of discussion about production, specifically when it came to sacks,” Franklin said. “But everybody that I could talk to and have interactions with about [Odafe] and what I thought his future was like, I was pounding the table for him.

“There’s nobody in our building that’s surprised about the success that either one of them are having,” Franklin added.

Several current former Penn State football stars spent plenty of time with the pair during their careers in Happy Valley, including Tariq Castro-Fields. The senior cornerback arrived in Happy Valley as part of the 2017 recruiting class one year ahead of Parsons and Oweh.

Castro-Fields can’t help but be proud to watch the pair grow from young prospects into the budding NFL talents they are today.

“Just to see those two guys grow here, and then make it to the league and still have that same impact they have here,” Castro-Fields said. “It just gives us all hope. I’m proud of them guys.”

Parsons and Oweh will both have opportunities to build on their young careers this weekend. The Ravens will kick off at 1 p.m. against the Detroit Lions on Sunday on CBS, while Parsons and the Cowboys get to show out on ESPN’s Monday Night Football against the Philadelphia Eagles.

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About the Author

Will Pegler

Will is a senior majoring in digital and print journalism and is an associate editor for Onward State. He is from Darien, Connecticut and is a lifelong Penn State football fan. He loves a good 80's comedy movie, Peaky Blinders, The Office, and the New York Yankees and Giants. You can catch some of his ridiculous sports takes on his Twitter @gritdude and yell at him on his email [email protected]

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