Exclusive: Projected Top-Five Pick Micah Parsons Explains Decision to Turn Pro

Kristian Dyer

For Micah Parsons, the decision to opt-out of his junior season at Penn State was one that was based not just on his desire to play in the NFL and get a start on his training for the NFL Combine. It was also weighed by the Big Ten’s decision to cancel the fall football season as well as limiting his exposure to COVID-19.

A two-year starter at Penn State, Parsons is arguably the most dominant defensive player in next spring’s NFL Draft – in fact he might be the most complete defensive player to come out of college football in quite some time. He is good in coverage, has incredible instincts for finding the ball and has proven to be a strong pass rusher off the edge.

The lack of a fall season for the Big Ten played a role in his decision to opt-out and declare for the NFL Draft. He became the first top-tier prospect to opt-out then declare for the NFL Draft.

“The uncertainty surely was something that made things challenging for us all. However, with everything going on, I just felt that it was the best decision for my family,” Parsons told SportsIllsutrated.com.

“Playing the game is what I love to do. I’ve spent countless hours mastering my craft, training with my teammates and preparing with the best coaches in the country to execute at the highest level come game day. Being blessed to play this wonderful game is a passion of mines and I don’t take it for granted. Being in there at the start of preseason training/fall camp felt amazing, but not knowing whether or not we were going to play a full season or at all - due to the virus - was something that gave me my reservations.”

As a sophomore at Penn State last season, he had 109 total tackles including five sacks and 14 tackles for a loss. He also had five passes defended and a fumble recovery. He is versatile, as he entered Penn State as a defensive end but moved back to linebacker once on campus, a sign of his rare athletic ability. He projects to either a 3-4 or a 4-3. He can play linebacker as he’s been the best in the country, but he also has the ability and versatility to play and become an elite defensive end, as well.

 “I always wanted to compete at the highest level against the best competition in the country and to also be fully prepared for such a life changing interview as it pertains to auditioning for the NFL, so for me, yes it was something that I thought about deeply,” Parsons said.

“But, most importantly, me being a leader, chief and Alpha Dog, I more so wanted to help lead my brothers to a Big 10 championship this year because what we had brewing was going to be something very special. I always believed that the next level would take care of itself, so my main focus and all of my energy was completely locked in on Penn State and what we had an opportunity to accomplish for our State of Pennsylvania, our fans and our university.”

Penn State was picked to finished second in the Big Ten’s East Division behind Ohio State.

Parsons represents the first of what could well be a wave of players who opt out of the season and get a jumpstart on their NFL careers. With the Big Ten uncertain about how a spring season would operate, Parsons likely isn’t the first or last upperclassman who will declare pro. 

It makes for a confusing time for players as a spring season for the Big Ten would run against the timeline for the NFL Combine and then the draft.

“With everything that’s transpiring right now, I had to truly make the best decision for my son, my family and my future,” Parsons said. 

“I cherish the best job in the world which is being a parent and I don’t take that lightly. Being without my son for an extended period of time would’ve been extremely tough, and more importantly, having the ability to potentially have exposed he or my parents to the virus is something that I simply couldn’t afford to do.” 

Register today for free or log in to access this premium article.