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Micah Parsons took over the NFL in his rookie season, arguably having one of the greatest rookie campaigns for a defensive player in league history. 

Parsons finished with 84 tackles, 13 sacks, 30 quarterback hits, 20 tackles for loss, and three forced fumbles in 16 games for the Dallas Cowboys -- the biggest reason why the Dallas defense emerged from the bottom four in points per game into the top 10. His 13 sacks were the most from a rookie since Aldon Smith in 2011, and his 20 tackles for loss were the most by a rookie since Lavonte David in 2012. 

Since quarterback hits were first tracked in 2006, Parsons' 30 were the most by a rookie in NFL history. He finished third in the NFL in tackles for loss, tied for fourth in quarterback hits, and sixth in sacks. Parsons was the first player with 13 sacks and 80 tackles in a single season since J.J. Watt in 2012. (Watt won Defensive Player of the Year that season.) The 13 sacks were tied for third-most by a rookie in NFL history since sacks became an NFL stat in 1982. 

Parsons was one of just 12 players with at least 10 sacks and two forced fumbles in 2021-- and was just one of six rookies with 12 sacks and 16 tackles for loss in a season since 1999 (Dwight FreeneyJoey BosaMaxx CrosbyVon Miller, and Clay Matthews are the others). 

Capping off a dominant rookie campaign, Parsons is striving to be even better in 2022. Parsons talked with CBS Sports about his rookie season, his expectations for his sophomore campaign and his other major sport outside of football.

Overall, how did you feel your rookie year went? Did you accomplish all the goals you set out in your rookie year? 

Parsons: "I wanted to complete the year healthy and help the Cowboys to the playoffs. I wanted to help take the Cowboys to the Super Bowl and become a leader on the team. I accomplished almost all of them."

When was the moment during your rookie season when you realized you could play in this league and do significant damage in the league?

Parsons: "There were a couple defining moments for me. The first moment was in camp. I was pass rushing and going through some team drills against the best of the best. I think we have the best offense in the NFL. I thought I was doing well hanging (with those players), learning and developing, doing very well. I was like, 'Okay, I can play at this level.' 

"There was a moment early in the year when I got my first sack and we won our first game (against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 2). And midway through the year I said, 'Man I'm here for a reason. Let me just be me. No more thinking, just play.'" 

I thought that was huge for your development. The Cowboys "let you be you." Did you like how Dan Quinn meshed you in with that defense early on in the year?

Parsons: "He let me know he needed me to be his guy and I didn't want to let him down."

You're a Pennsylvania kid from Harrisburg. You're coming into the league out of Penn State. Were there any players you looked up to and wanted to emulate your game based off them? 

Parsons: 'When I was coming out, Devin White was setting the standard. You look at Luke (Kuechly) setting the standard for linebackers before he retired. You're looking at players that played the position at an elite level and are fast like Bobby (Wagner). Those fast, make-a-lot-of-plays linebackers were who I was looking at."

As a former defensive end and linebacker, I can relate to your position. You're great at both, but do you have a preference what position you want to play? 

Parsons: "As long as I make a play. My best attribute is versatility."

You play for the Cowboys and you're from Pennsylvania. Where you're from -- it's Eagles, Steelers, and Ravens territory. Do you get any flak from the central PA area because you play for Dallas? 

Parsons: "So I never had a team growing up. I was never an Eagles fan, Steelers fan, or Ravens fan. I was just a fan of the game. It's different out in central PA." 

You became a leader on the Cowboys in your first season and Dallas had a bounce-back year. What do you think the Cowboys need to do in order to get to the Super Bowl? 

Parsons: "We have to clean up the details and we have to be way more disciplined. We can't beat ourselves. That was our first year together in that system and there's a lot of time for us to grow and get better from it." 

Dallas played Philadelphia twice -- and kicked its butt pretty good. You only got to see Jalen Hurts once and that was early in the year. What did you think of him?

Parsons: "I liked his confidence and composure, along with his ability to extend plays. He never let anything get to him. I think he is going to be a very good player." 

Since we're on quarterbacks, who was the toughest quarterback you faced your rookie year?

Parsons: "Either Kyler Murray or Patrick Mahomes. Their mobility stood out for sure." 

Since you were drafted, you have been exactly what the Cowboys needed. I know we're one year in here, but do you envision yourself playing your whole career in Dallas?

Parsons: "I hope so! I hope I don't go anywhere else." 

Penn State players seem to have an easy transition to the league, especially under James Franklin. What does JF and that coaching staff do to help you guys prepare for the NFL? 

Parsons: "They're structured and disciplined. I was so prepared because of Coach Franklin. He made sure you attended meetings, paid attention to detail -- basically coached you to be a pro. He could easily be a NFL coach. His whole program was designed for you to prepare for the next level, whether it's on the field or off the field." 

I know you carried the ball in high school at Harrisburg. You were a 1,000-yard rusher. Have you ever asked Mike McCarthy to give you the ball at the goal line or take any offensive snaps? 

Parsons: "Oh he owes me a carry! I've been talking to him about it. He owes me one. If I happen to score a touchdown in AT&T Stadium, I'm getting a flag (laughing)."

As a competitive bowler myself, what is your highest game? 

Parsons: "I got a 277. I had a 6-spare in the sixth frame and struck out. I'm in a bowling league every Tuesday and on a good day I'll average between 190 and 210. It's tough to keep that up." 

What equipment do you use? 

Parsons: "I have a Storm Trend 2, a Storm Rocket, a Storm IQ. I also have a Roto, a plastic ball, and a Brunswick Kings Pin."

You use the plastic ball for spares?

Parsons: "Yea, but sometimes I don't even pull it out. You know why, just based on taking revs off the ball." 

I understand you're in Los Angeles right now with Pizza Hut. What are you doing with them?

Parsons: "So Pizza Hut just dropped the new Spicy Lovers Pizza and I'm inspiring people to try it out. I ate pizza my whole life and am just a pizza and wings guy. From the time I was about 5 or 6, I loved pizza. I'm a meat lovers guy and they never had a spicy meat lovers pizza, so I knew this was for me. 

"I usually put flakes on my pizza anyway, but now you have peppers on it. It gives the pizza a nice kick. Add those flakes and you're set."

What's your go-to topping?

Parsons: "Oh I'm a pepperoni guy for sure! I'm starting to add some sausage and ham to the mix, but either or works for me."