Micah Parsons begins his NFL career, selected 12th overall by the Dallas Cowboys. The Harrisburg native becomes the first Penn State linebacker drafted in the first round since LaVar Arrington in 2000.

Dallas traded back from No. 10 to the Eagles to get Parsons at No. 12.

Micah grew up a Cowboys fan and openly talked about wanting to start his NFL career where he ended his college career. The linebacker was the defensive MVP of the 2019 Cotton Bowl inside AT&T Stadium in Dallas.

In just two seasons at Penn State, the 21-year-old recorded 191 total tackles with 6.5 sacks. He dazzled scouts at Penn State Pro Day with his 4.39 speed at 6’3″, 246 lbs. Penn State Defensive Coordinator Brent Pry says Micah is the most “competitive person [he’s] ever coached.”

“I am super excited for Micah to be selected by the Dallas Cowboys and carry on the tradition of LBU,” Pry said. “I am so proud of his accomplishments at Penn State and thrilled for his future in the NFL. The Cowboys should be very excited to have such a competitive player and quality person. The fans in Dallas are going to love Micah Parsons, and his coaches and teammates will love working with him.”

Parsons was the youngest linebacker to be named the Butkus–Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year in the Big Ten Conference as a sophomore in 2019. The linebacker opted out of the 2020 season due to concerns about COVID-19.

High School career

Micah Parsons’ high school career was highly touted and scrutinized by football fans in the Midstate. The Harrisburg native played on the Central Dauphin freshman team as an eighth-grader and started for the varsity Rams as a freshman.

After just four games as a freshman, Penn State would offer Parsons to join the Nittany Lions.

The budding star was gifted with size and incredible talent. His rise into the 5-star ranks of high school recruits captured a lot of attention.

The attention came with critics, which were amplified after a controversial transfer from Central Dauphin to Harrisburg High School.

“I always look at it like you never know a situation,” Parsons said. “Everyone thought I just left because things were hard, but I’ve never been a quitter in my life. No one could have ever experienced that what we were going through.”

Micah’s father, Terrence, says Harrisburg Head Coach Cal Everett was “open” to using Micah however the team needed; that’s when the HS defensive end started playing some RB as well. In just his senior season, Micah rushed for 1,239 yards and 27 touchdowns. The Cougars went undefeated, and Micah picked up a few more big offers from schools like Alabama.

“[Considering] what Micah has been through, and then to be able to end up where he is at in this moment, to have this opportunity in front of him, he deserves every minute of it,” Everett said of Micah being drafted into the NFL.

He would go on to Penn State where Head Coach James Franklin and Defensive Coordinator Brent Pry would move Micah’s position again, this time to linebacker.

“If he’s not playing, he’s not going to be happy,” Terrence said. “Whatever the team needs, that’s the type of person Micah is. If they say play safety, he’ll go play safety to the best of his ability. As long as he’s on the field, he’s happy and he’s going to give you 100 percent.”

Penn State career

Micah was anxious to become a starter at Penn State as a freshman and would often ask Coach Pry why he wasn’t in that position. According to Micah’s father, the first-year linebacker would spend hours in the defensive coordinator’s office trying to get better.

“I wanted to separate myself,” Micah said. “I had the desire to want to make it out and there was nothing that was going to stop me to get away from chasing my dreams. The only way to do that was to learn everything I could have possibly learn to get [Penn State honors and make it to the NFL], and the only person who knew more than me, was him.

Micah only started one game his freshman season, but would lead the team in tackles.

When Micah was drafted to play in the NFL, Franklin and Pry were with the Parsons family in Cleveland.

“Coach Franklin and Coach Pry mean the world to me,” Micah said. “They never gave up on me, even when things hit the turmoil in high school.”

Micah becomes the first Penn State linebacker taken in the first round of the NFL Draft since his mentor LaVar Arrington was selected in 2000.

“We could not be prouder of Micah, a young man from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on being selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the first round of this year’s NFL Draft,” said head coach James Franklin. “He will be a great addition to the Cowboys. What separates Micah from others is his intense competitive nature. He was the first sophomore to be the Big Ten Linebacker of the Year in our conference’s 125-year history and was a Consensus All-American in 2019 after playing the position for only two seasons. Micah had an incredible drive to complete his college degree. He graduated from Penn State in just three years with a degree in criminology and finished with a GPA above 3.0. The Cowboys are getting a phenomenal talent who is sharp, thoughtful and is just beginning to scratch the surface of what he is capable of becoming. We have been extremely fortunate to have a player like Micah represent our program and we wish him nothing but the best in the NFL.” 

Parsons is the highest drafted Penn State defensive player since Aaron Maybin went 11th overall to the Buffalo bills in 2009. Additionally, he is the first Penn State player taken in the first round since Saquon Barkley (2018; second overall to the New York Giants), the first Nittany Lion defensive player drafted in the first round since Jared Odrick (2010; 28th overall to the Miami Dolphins) and the first PSU linebacker selected in the first round since LaVar Arrington (2000; second overall to the Washington Redskins).

The NFL Draft first round is live on abc27.