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Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons announced his decision to opt out of the 2020 college football season and prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft on Thursday.
In a video he posted to his Instagram account, Parsons addressed Penn State fans to explain his decision to forgo the upcoming college football season amidst the coronavirus pandemic. He stated his primary reason was his two-year-old son.
"As I considered my options for the 2020 season, I decided that I needed to make a choice not for myself, but for my son and those dearest to me," Parsons said in the video. "While I felt safe with the health and safety standards as we returned to Penn State for workouts, the potential risk to the health and well-being of my son far outweighed my urge to play football season."
Parsons' decision came as a surprise to many, as he had two seasons of eligibility remaining and stated his hope to win a national championship with the Nittany Lions. However, Parsons decided the risk was not worth it.
In the video, Parsons also announced he will be graduating early and receiving his degree in December in order to prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft. At 6-foot-3, 245 pounds with an estimated 4.4-second 40-yard dash, he is a potential top-10 pick in next year's draft.
Meanwhile, Parsons wasn't the only likely first-round pick to decide to skip the season. Miami defensive end Greg Rousseau has also decided to opt out. The redshirt sophomore had 15 1/2 sacks last season for the Hurricanes and two forced fumbles. No returning college football player had more sacks than Rousseau last season. Only Chase Young had more (16.5).
The trend is excelerating. Rousseau and Parsons join Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley and Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman as four potential first-round picks to all opt out of the upcoming season.
BREAKING: Greg Rousseau has told Manny Diaz he will not be playing football this season.
— Manny Navarro (@Manny_Navarro) August 6, 2020
Parsons was a five-star prospect from Harrisburg, Pa. and the highest-rated player ever recruited by head coach James Franklin. He led the team with 82 tackles as a freshman and had a standout sophomore season in 2019 with 109 tackles, 14 for loss and five sacks. He earned All-American honors, was selected as Big Ten Linebacker of the Year and was a Butkus Award finalist.
Now Penn State will have to carry on their season without Parsons. The Nittany Lions ranked seventh in the Preseason Coaches Poll released on Thursday. With the new Big Ten schedule released on Wednesday, they will now open their season at home against Northwestern on Sept. 5 and will host rival Maryland on Oct. 17.
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