Catching up with Micah Parsons

Mark Wogenrich

Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons will rejoin the team for voluntary workouts June 22, after spending Father's Day with his Terrence and son Malcolm. In the meantime, the defending Big Ten linebacker of the year said he's doing everything he can to be ready for the season.

"I'm just trying to win championships, and if this is my year, it's my year, you know?" he said.

Parsons covered a variety of topics Monday in a 30-minute video call with reporters, from his spring regimen to who might start alongside him. Here are some highlights.

Wrestling and MMA?

Parsons trained with former Penn State wrestler Bo Nickal this offseason in both wrestling and mixed martial arts. Nickal signed with a management group last year to start an MMA career and currently is training in Florida with former teammate Anthony Cassar.

Parsons often has spoken about wanting to give wrestling a shot, particularly at Penn State. He said the training delivered an impact.

"I was doing anything I could think of, anything that seemed fun or challenging for me, I was doing just as a competitor," Parsons said. "I just knew it would make me better."

Competition at linebacker

Two starting spots at linebacker are open, and Parsons expects to see a rotation alongside him during the season's first four games. Ellis Brooks and Jesse Luketa are vying to start at middle linebacker, while Brandon Smith and Lance Dixon are competing for the other spot outside.

"It's going to be a crazy competitive room this summer," Parsons said. "I personally can't wait to see who's going to win the jobs out of those four."

A new challenge

Parsons already is among the nation's best linebackers. His new pursuit this year is taking a more active role leading the team.

This is forcing Parsons to go "outside my comfort zone."

"It's always a challenge when you're stepping into a bigger role," Parsons said. "... I went from the guy that never said anything to the guy that's probably got to speak up more. I've got to go outside my comfort zone a little bit and speak up more and try to be that guy for the younger guys. It's going to be a challenging year for me, but I think it can't do anything but help me grow."

Setting goals

Parsons wrote out a series of goals last year, most of which he said came true. He's taking the same approach this year and encouraging teammates to join him.

One goal he has achieved already: Parsons power-cleaned 375 pounds at the team's winter testing day.

"It’s really simple," Parsons said. "I know I’m going to go 110 percent every day. Whether we win or lose, I can say I did everything I possibly could to win the game or got better."

'A relief'

Penn State announced Sunday that students will return to campus Aug. 24. Parsons called that "a relief," because he said he prefers in-person classes and interactive time with teachers.

Plus, there's the Beaver Stadium component.

"Hopefully, by the time the season comes, Beaver Stadium is going to be full and packed," he said.

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