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A Lion Is Always Hungry: Micah Parsons Dominates Rookie Year

After skipping the 2020 college football season, Micah Parsons became the sixth linebacker from Penn State to be drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft.

Parsons immediately turned the heads of teammates and fans before the season even started when HBO’s “Hard Knocks” followed the Dallas Cowboy’s offseason and training camp. Little did they know, the lion was still hungry for more.

Fast forward to the end of the NFL season, and Parsons and the Cowboys clinched the NFC East and have punched their ticket as the NFC’s No. 4 seed for the upcoming NFL playoffs. The team’s success has stemmed not from its franchise quarterback’s play or even its smash-mouth running back from Ohio State. Instead, it’s largely been fueled by a ferocious defense led by none other than Parsons.

In 16 games this season, Parsons led rookies in sacks and forced fumbles with 13 and three, respectively. He even came in second among rookies with 84 total tackles. Parsons was also named Defensive Rookie of the Month, twice and even punched his ticket to the 2022 NFL Pro Bowl as one of four rookies selected. On Friday, he became a first-team All-Pro as a rookie.

Parsons’ ninth sack of the season set a new record for Dallas Cowboys rookies, breaking the mark formerly held by teammate and four-time first-team All-Pro DeMarcus Ware. Parsons fell just short of tying an NFL rookie record 14.5 sacks.

Penn Staters and fans alike have dubbed its football program “Linebacker University”, and who can blame them? With the names of Jack Ham, Shane Conlan, and Lavar Arrington, it’s hard not to associate the blue and white with elite linebacker DNA. Parsons not only embraced this but transformed and continued the culture of ‘LBU’. In fact, Parsons out-sacked those named above combined by 7.5 sacks and trailed only Conlan for tackles during his rookie campaign.

Parsons has set himself up as a strong favorite to win the NFL’s Defensive Rookie Of the Year award this season, with Conlan being the last Penn Stater to win it back in 1987. Parsons has gained a little steam for the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year honor, but with TJ Watt tying the league’s single-season sack record, that award may be out of reach for the former Penn State star.

Accolades aside, it’s hard not to appreciate how special this year has been for Parsons, the Dallas Cowboys, and especially Penn State. We’re now back to seeing the rise of “LBU” with recent stars and former teammates of Parsons, Brandon Smith, Ellis Brooks, and Jesse Luketa, all declaring for the 2022 NFL Draft. What a time to be a Penn State linebacker.

For now, Parsons and the Cowboys are set to take on the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, January 16, in the first round of the NFL Playoffs. Kickoff is set for 4:30 p.m. on CBS (and Nickelodeon!).

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About the Author

Tobey Prime

Tobey is a senior studying broadcast journalism from Lancaster, PA. He is a major Pittsburgh sports fan and Miami Heat fanatic. When Tobey isn't writing for Onward State, you can catch him looking at photos of his pugs. Send your best insults to [email protected] or sports takes to @tobey_prime on Twitter.

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