Penn State coach James Franklin confirmed Wednesday that star linebacker Micah Parsons won't be returning to the Nittany Lions for the 2020 season. Parsons, a projected first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, initially opted out of his junior season in early August, but there was some hope that the Big Ten's decision to begin its season on Oct. 24 might prompt Parsons to return to school.
"We had great conversation with Micah and both his mom and dad," Franklin told reporters. "I think there was a legitimate possibility for that to happen. But as we continued to talk, the timing of it made it challenging. That won't be happening. We understand the decision. Just like we were on the front end, we're supportive of the decision."
Parsons racked up 109 tackles, including 14 for loss, and five sacks as a sophomore last season while earning consensus All-American honors and the Big Ten's Linebacker of the Year award. He was also a Butkus Award finalist and one of several marquee players from the Big Ten who opted out of the 2020 season when it appeared the league wouldn't play this fall.
Some of those Big Ten stars, including Ohio State's Shaun Wade and Wyatt Davis, Purdue's Rondale Moore and Minnesota's Rashod Bateman, among others, have declared their intent to opt back in to the 2020 season since the league now intends to play this fall.
Parsons had reportedly already signed with an agent, however, which added a layer of complication to his potential return to Penn State. Minnesota's Bateman also signed with an agent and is going through the NCAA's Student-Athlete Reinstatement process in an attempt to regain eligibility.