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Penn State in the NFL

Former Penn State LB Micah Parsons Second to TJ Watt in NFL Defensive Player of the Year Voting, Wins Defensive Rookie of the Year

Photo by Penn State Athletics: Micah Parsons

There‘s a good chance Micah Parsons wins one or multiple NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards before his career is done.

But it won’t happen this season.

As expected, Pittsburgh Steelers superstar TJ Watt was named the 2022 recipient during Thursday night’s NFL Honors show. Watt finished the year with 22.5 sacks, tying Michael Strahan’s single-season league record. Watt beat out Parsons, who finished second, and Aaron Donald of the Los Angeles Rams.

“It’s an honor, and I hope T.J. (Watt) and the rest of the league knows that I’m still hungry,” Parsons said. “I’m coming for it next year. … I’m excited to go for it.”

Not winning Defensive Player of the Year doesn’t diminish what Parsons did in his rookie season. He finished the year with 13 sacks— despite not being a traditional pass rusher— and 84 total tackles, becoming one of just four rookie linebackers  to be named first team All-Pro, joining Darius Leonard, Patrick Willis and Lawrence Taylor. Parsons won the AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year at Thursday’s ceremony.

A five-star recruit from Harrisburg, Parsons only played two seasons at Penn State, but made the most of his time, being named freshman all-American in 2018 and consensus all-American in 2019. He didn’t left Penn State after that 2019 season, choosing to focus on the NFL Draft amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Dallas then selected Parsons with the 12th overall pick in the 2021 draft.

For all of Penn State’s defensive excellence, the school is still waiting on a former player to take home NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

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