James Franklin said linebacker Micah Parsons will not be returning to Penn State this season, ending speculation that had been around for a couple of weeks.
Parsons, an All-American last year, opted out of the college football season in early August. Franklin said there was a “legitimate possibility” that Parsons would return to PSU, but it ultimately came down to the fact that the player had made his decision a long time ago and that made a big difference.
“It was a very rough decision, I’ll say that,” defensive coordinator Brent Pry said. “Micah was pretty torn.”
Franklin said he had conversations with Parsons and his parents throughout the process.
“I think there was legitimate possibility for that happening,” Franklin said. “But as we continued to talk and continued to work with it, the timing of it made it challenging.
“(Parsons) had been gone for so long and been in California training, that made it a little bit more complicated.”
Parsons has been projected to go as high as the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL draft, according to some mock drafts.
The Nittany Lions are deep at the linebacker spot — it is Linebacker U, after all — and Pry said other guys in the position room are ready to make their mark.
“We’ve got a bunch of hungry guys looking to make people forget No. 11, at least somewhat,” Pry said.
Interestingly, Pry pointed out that it wouldn’t have been a given that Parsons could have returned to PSU even if he had wanted to. Parsons was already making plans to head to the NFL, which included hiring an agent.
“No guarantee,” Pry said when asked if Parsons would have been eligible to return. “There was a waiver process, and there’s some stipulations that would come along with it, so it wasn’t just cut and dry.”