The list of Big Ten stars who are opting back into the postponed 2020 season will not include Penn State’s Micah Parsons.
PSU coach James Franklin confirmed Wednesday that the linebacker would not be playing this season with the Nittany Lions. Parsons had opted out of the season over the summer to prepare for the NFL draft before the Big Ten officially postponed its season.
"We had a really great conversation with Micah and both his mom and his dad," Franklin said via Rivals’ Blue White Illustrated. "I think there was a legitimate possibility for that happening, but as we continued to talk and continued to work with it, the timing of it made it challenging. He had been gone for so long and had been in California training that that made it a little bit more complicated than we were able to work through so that won't be happening."
Parsons’ decision to not opt back into the season that begins on Oct. 24 is certainly disappointing for Nittany Lions fans. But it makes total sense for the rest of his career. Parsons is a potential top-10 pick in the 2021 NFL draft and even has an outside shot at being the first Big Ten player drafted in the spring. A poor season or, even worse, an injury, could torpedo his draft standing.
Parsons will also remain the highest-profile Big Ten player to not return to school. Ohio State’s Shaun Wade and Wyatt Davis reversed their decisions to come back and wide receivers Rondale Moore (Purdue) and Rashod Bateman (Minnesota) have also both said they’re coming back. All four of those players are also potential first-round picks. But Wade is the only defensive player among that group.
Not long after Franklin said that Parsons would not be returning, Minnesota said that Bateman would be cleared to return to the team. Bateman had signed with an agent in preparation for the draft but was cleared by the NCAA to be eligible in 2020.
Parsons has been dominant in his two seasons playing for Penn State. He had 109 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and five sacks as a sophomore in 2019. That was a fantastic sequel to a freshman campaign that included 82 tackles, four tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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