Parsons headlines Penn State's revamped LB corps

Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons plays against Purdue during a game last season in State College. Parsons headlines the Nittany Lions’ revamped linebacking corps.

STATE COLLEGE – Penn State All-America linebacker and reigning Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year Micah Parsons will reportedly sit out the 2020 season because of coronavirus concerns, according to Yahoo Sports’ Eric Edholm.

Edholm published the report late Tuesday night.

“Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons is expected to opt out of the 2020 college football season and declare for the 2021 NFL draft, sources told Yahoo Sports on Tuesday night,” Edholm wrote. “Parsons is expected to make the decision official Wednesday morning. Multiple people close to the Penn State program are expecting him to leave barring a last-minute change of heart.”

The announcement appears to end Parsons’ decorated two-year Penn State career. The rising junior has garnered NCAA-wide acclaim since his freshman season in 2018, when he led the Penn State defense with 83 tackles despite logging just one start.

Parsons again paced the Nittany Lions’ defensive unit in 2019 with 109 tackles to go with five sacks, five pass deflections, four forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. The Harrisburg native turned in one of the best defensive performances to date by a Penn State defender in the Dec. 28 Cotton Bowl. Parsons recorded 14 total tackles and added two sacks, two fumble recoveries and two pass deflections.

Parsons was named the Cotton Bowl’s most valuable defensive player.

“Obviously, I was able to get my opportunity and make the most of it and I'm grateful for it,” Parsons said after the Cotton Bowl win. “When you get your opportunity, your moment, you just got to take advantage of it, I believe. And I was able to take advantage of it today.”

Parsons enters the 2020 season as one of the country’s most talented and anticipated linebackers. The 6-foot-3, 245-pounder appears on watch lists for the Maxwell (best all-around player), the Butkus (best linebacker) and the Bednarik awards (best defender).

Parsons’ sound, consistent play on defense have him marked as a first-round NFL draft selection by many draft experts. USA Today’s Draft Wire’s July 29 projections peg Parsons going fifth overall to the Cincinnati Bengals. Pro Football Focus, meanwhile, has Parsons atop its 2021 NFL draft positional rankings.

“Parsons is as complete a linebacker prospect as we’ve seen in our six years of grading at PFF,” reads the website’s evaluation. “Tackling, taking on blocks, speed, coverage ability — you name it, Parsons can do it. We haven’t quite yet seen playmaking ability in coverage (just four career pass breakups to date) to the degree we saw it from others in the past, but he was only a true sophomore in 2019 yet was already the highest-graded linebacker in college football.”

On Tuesday morning, Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman announced he will forgo his 2020 season with the Golden Gophers because of coronavirus health concerns and will focus on the upcoming draft.

This story will be updated.

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