STATE COLLEGE — Penn State’s Brent Pry was asked to sum up the season linebacker Micah Parsons had in his first year as a Nittany Lion.
One statistic summed it up best in the mind of the third-year defensive coordinator.
“I think the fact that Micah led our defense in tackles, and started only one game, tells the tale a little bit,” Pry said.
The Harrisburg product did play in all 12 games though, which helped him amass 69 tackles, three more than fellow linebacker Jan Johnson’s 66, through the 9-3 regular season. His lone start came at Rutgers due to Cam Brown being suspended for a violation of team rules, and Parsons turned the extra playing time into seven tackles (two for loss), a sack, and a forced fumble in the Lions November win over the Scarlet Knights.
Parsons heads into the bowl game still listed as the backup at one outside linebacker spot behind starter Koa Farmer, but he figures to out snap the senior in the Citrus Bowl against No. 14 Kentucky in Orlando, Fla., just like he did for much of the second half of the season.
“He’s got some growing to do, some maturing; my hat is off to him for the year he did put in,” Pry said. “A young man that had never played linebacker, and worked hard to learn it, played hard, didn’t allow things to slow him down when he wasn’t sure, so he had a very nice year.”
After the Jan. 1 contest, the team’s focus will quickly turn to lifting, conditioning, and other preparations for the 2019 season, which opens Aug. 31 when Idaho visits Beaver Stadium. It will mark a chance for Pry’s defense to grow individually and as a unit, and Parsons figures to be a key part of it for at least a couple of years to come.
“He’s got a big offseason in front of him,” Pry said. “Very high expectations he places on himself, and he’s got obviously great potential, so it’s going to be exciting moving forward.”