Penn State LB Micah Parsons not opting back in for 2020

Penn State Nittany Lions star linebacker Micah Parsons will not opt back in for the 2020 season after discussing the options, coach James Franklin said Wednesday.

There was a legitimate possibility of Parsons opting in for Penn State, Franklin said, but the amount of time he had been away from the program made a return "a little bit more complicated." Parsons announced Aug. 6 that he would opt out of the 2020 season and prepare for the 2021 NFL draft, citing "the potential risk to the health and well-being" of his young son.

The Big Ten postponed the fall football season Aug. 11 before reinstating a nine-game season Sept. 16. Penn State will open Oct. 24 at Indiana. Several high-profile Big Ten players who initially opted out have decided to play for their teams this fall, including Purdue wide receiver Rondale Moore and Ohio State cornerback Shaun Wade.

Parsons signed with an agent and has been training in California to prepare for the NFL scouting combine next year. ESPN's Mel Kiper has Parsons at No. 5 on his Big Board for the 2021 draft.

"We understand the decision," Franklin said Wednesday. "Just like we were on the front end, we're supportive of the decision."

Parsons earned consensus All-America honors in 2019, when he started 12 games and recorded 109 total tackles, 14 tackles for loss, five sacks, four forced fumbles and five passes defended. He was named the Big Ten's linebacker of the year, a finalist for the Butkus Award, and Cotton Bowl MVP after Penn State's win over Memphis.

He had 192 tackles, including 19 for loss, and six forced fumbles in two years at Penn State.

"What was challenging was Micah had opted out pretty early and was really knee-deep in his training and what he was doing out West," defensive coordinator Brent Pry said, "It was a very tough decision, I'll say that. Micah was pretty torn, and it drug on for a few days before it was official. ... I'm very thankful for what he did. It was awesome seeing him play in the blue and white and what he did for our defense. I'm going to be pulling for him each and every Sunday in the league."