Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons, one of the top players in college football, is opting out of the 2020 season due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic and intends to enter the 2021 NFL Draft as an underclassman.
Parsons announced his plans in an Instagram video on Thursday:
Thank you Penn State #LBU #stixcity #2021NFLDRAFT #RIPCOACHHAM
A post shared by Micah Parsons (@_micahparsons11) on
“As I considered all my options for a 2020 season, I decided I needed to make a choice — not for myself, but my son and those dearest to me,” Parsons said in the video, which dropped two days after Yahoo Sports reported the linebacker was expected to opt out. “While I felt safe with the health and safety standards as we returned to Penn State for workouts, the potential risk to the health and well-being of my son far outweighed my urge to play football this season. Therefore, I decided to opt out of the 2020 season and prepare for the 2021 NFL draft. I will be graduating early and receiving my degree in December.”
Following a stellar 2019 season in which he was a consensus All-American, the Big Ten Linebacker of the Year and a finalist for the Butkus Award (college football’s top LB), Parsons had little to prove to NFL scouts entering what would have been his true junior season. He led the Nittany Lions with 109 tackles, while racking up 14 tackles for loss, five sacks, five passes defensed and four forced fumbles.
At 6-foot-3, 244 pounds (per school measurements), Parsons can play inside or outside and has third-down value as either a pass rusher or coverage player. NFL.com draft analyst and former scout Daniel Jeremiah placed a preliminary grade on Parsons that is higher than any of the three off-ball linebackers selected in the first round of the 2020 draft (Kenneth Murray, Patrick Queen and Jordyn Brooks). Jeremiah compared Parsons to Cowboys Pro Bowler Jaylon Smith.
Uncertainty about player safety due to coronavirus — and the resulting tenuous nature of a college season that already has seen most non-conference games canceled at the Power Five level — has created an environment ripe for opt-outs by top players. Parsons is the third high-profile draft prospect to make this move. Minnesota WR Rashod Bateman announced his decision to opt out on Tuesday after a record-breaking 2019 season for the Golden Gophers. Last week, Virginia Tech’s Caleb Farley, an All-ACC cornerback, also announced that he’s opting out.
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