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.

In fact, in his first game, Parsons blocked a punt in the final 26 seconds against Manheim Township to send the game to overtime.

“To say he burst onto the scene would be an understatement,” said Glen McNamee, Central Dauphin football head coach.

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

“That created quite a buzz within the program, the school and beyond the school,” McNamee said.

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.

“It taught me a lot about myself, and it taught me a lot about how people treat you,” Parsons said.

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.”

In the fall of Parsons junior season at Central Dauphin, his mom, Sherese, says her landlord raised her rent on their apartment. Micah and Sherese would need to move back to Harrisburg to live with family. It was a rare instance of a mid-season transfer, by the biggest star to come through Harrisburg in a decade.

“Internally, I’m sure he was dealing with a lot,” said Calvin Everett, Harrisburg football head coach. “It was never something I was aware of that held him back or really bothered him. To me, he took it like a champ.”

At Harrisburg, Parsons did it all. He was a star running back scoring 27 touchdowns in his senior season and was a talented defensive end.

“He’s inspiration for all of our guys,” Everett said. “Everything they’re going through, he’s been through as well.”

While Midstate fans may have criticized Parsons for the transfer, the schools say there was never any bad blood between the teams.

“We wish nothing but the best for Micah,” McNamee said, speaking for the Central Dauphin program. “We wish nothing but the best for him, not just on Draft day, but more importantly beyond. In his football career, but more importantly in his life.”

Harrisburg’s Everett knows how special this moment is for the community and his school.

“[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.

The NFL Draft begins Thursday, April 29 at 8 p.m. on abc27.