PSU's Micah Parsons Announces He Will Opt Out, Prep for NFL Draft Amid Pandemic

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistAugust 6, 2020

Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons (11) in action against Rutgers during an NCAA college football game in State College, Pa., on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Barry Reeger)
Barry Reeger/Associated Press

It's now official: Micah Parsons will not play for Penn State during the 2020 season.

The All-American linebacker and projected first-round pick will sit out the season and prepare for the 2021 NFL draft, he announced Thursday.

Penn State Football @psufootball

Micah Parsons will leave Penn State, prep for the NFL draft instead of taking his chances with COVID-19: Here’s why https://t.co/gpw9j5Lmd4 https://t.co/RDAx733OtK

"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," Parsons said in a video for PennLive. 

Parsons said he "100 percent" would have returned to Penn State if it weren't for the pandemic. 

"It was the hardest decision I ever had to make," he said. "It left me lost a lot of days, where I just couldn't make a decision what I wanted to do."

Parsons said he consulted with LaVar Arrington and defensive coordinator Brent Pry the most when making his decision, which became easier when teammates said they would support him either way. 

"When you have a son, your whole world changes—a kid in general, son or a girl. I really thought about him because, as I was growing up, I never really had much. And now I have this great opportunity to work hard and me to really give him the life that I never had. It's just so hard for me to pass it up. ... Now I'm in a great position to expand my son's life and give him the education, the life I never received growing up."

Parsons recorded 109 tackles and five sacks in 2019, earning Big Ten Linebacker of the Year honors, along with first-team All-American and All-Big Ten selections. Pro Football Focus ranks Parsons as the fifth-best player in the 2021 class, and he's a borderline lock to be a top-10 selection in next year's draft.

While Penn State's defense will undoubtedly be hurt by Parsons' absence, he had little incentive to play in the 2020 season given the ongoing concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic. It's unlikely his draft stock will rise any higher than it is now.

Don't be surprised if several other top prospects follow in Parsons' footsteps.