Penn State freshman Micah Parsons, nearly a full year removed from the conclusion of his widespread recruitment, is pushing for another prized prospect to join him in Happy Valley.
“Come on Lil bro! Let’s take over the Big 10!” Parsons wrote Sunday night.
Parsons, an outside linebacker who leads the Nittany Lions with 69 tackles, is among foundational members of a burgeoning Penn State defensive lineup. It’s a unit that allowed only 20 total points in the final three regular-season games, and most of the group is expected back in 2019.
Young defensive contributors have lined up all over the field for Penn State this season, gaining experience, learning from mistakes and making strides along the way. First- and second-year players such as Parsons, defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos, defensive tackle PJ Mustipher, cornerbacks Tariq Castro-Fields and Donovan Johnson, safeties Jonathan Sutherland and Lamont Wade, and linebacker Ellis Brooks are among those who stepped up as either starters or key reserves this season, while true freshmen Trent Gordon (cornerback), Jesse Luketa (linebacker), Jayson Oweh (defensive end) and Nick Tarburton (defensive end) also saw action.
Defensive reinforcements arrive in 2019, beginning in January with early enrollees. That collection is headlined by five-star linebacker Brandon Smith and features four top-300 overall recruits in 247Sports composite rankings: Smith (No. 24), linebacker Lance Dixon (No. 228), defensive back Tyler Rudolph (No. 247) and defensive end Hakeem Beamon (No. 263). It also includes another three four-star high school defensive backs and top-ranked junior college safety Jaquan Brisker.
Smith, a senior at IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.), is a 6-foot-3, 232-pound prospect who took over the top spot in 2019 composite rankings this summer.
“The target on my back just got bigger than it already is,” Smith told 247Sports Georgia reporter Kipp Adams afterward.
He responded with another strong season (video highlights at the bottom of this page). A Savannah, Ga. resident, he attended Calvary Day School in that city prior to his 2017 transfer to IMG Academy, a preparatory boarding school and sport training destination that attracts top athletes from across the world.
Though he verbally committed to the Georgia Bulldogs in January 2017 — following a sophomore season that featured 75 tackles and 12 sacks — Smith continues to explore other collegiate options. His travels this season include official visits elsewhere in the SEC, to Alabama and Tennessee.
“Leave home (and) let’s build something great,” Parsons tweeted to Smith following his trip to Penn State.
Parsons helped him feel comfortable during the stay on campus.
“Oh man, Micah Parsons is my guy,” Smith told Lions247’s Sean Fitz. “Me and Micah, I’ve known him since my 11th-grade year going to The Opening. He calls me his nephew. He was just telling me how it was up there and how they’re doing something special.”
Parsons’ Sunday night social media reach-out was in response to a Smith tweet in which he shared photos from Penn State and delivered an emphatic review of his experience.
“This weekend with a true players coach (James Franklin) was the best weekend of my life,” Smith wrote.
That declaration was undoubtedly met with some sideway glances in Athens. Meanwhile, it indicates the kind of impression Franklin, Parsons and Co. delivered when provided an opportunity to bring America’s top recruit into town.
Smith won the Nike Football Rating Championship at The Opening Finals in July, anointing him the most athletic participant at a showcase that included more than 160 top prospects representing the 2019 and 2020 recruiting classes.
His testing featured a 4.55-second 40-yard dash, 42.2-inch vertical jump, 4.08-second short shuttle, and 44.5-foot Powerball toss. The combination of those results registered a 141.75 rating and provided another example of an incredibly versatile skill set that could lead him to line up in multiple positions at the next level.
Penn State carries 17 commitments in its 2019 recruiting class, which ranks 13th in 247Sports composite rankings. Closing in on the early signing period, additional defensive priorities include linemen D’Von Ellies, Zach Harrison, Jared Harrison-Hunte and Adisa Isaac.