Micah Parsons — the highest-ranked Penn State recruit in more than a decade — could still be the next legendary product of "Linebacker U." But at least in the short term, Parsons isn't pushing to become Jason Cabinda's successor.
Eight practices into spring camp, Parsons has been moved from middle linebacker to the outside — an understandable switch for the freakishly athletic freshman.
"It takes a little bit off his plate right now," Penn State head coach James Franklin said Wednesday night at Holuba Hall. "It's going to help him grow and evolve the way we need him to."
Parsons — a five-star defensive end out of Harrisburg — was announced as a "Mike" candidate on early signing day, but is a logical fit at "Will" linebacker. The outside box linebacker is typically the quickest of the three, and Parsons definitely brings that element.
The 6-foot-3, 241-pound budding 'backer clocked a 4.5 40-yard dash, racked up 17.5 tackles for loss as a senior in high school and rushed for 27 touchdowns and 1,239 yards in his final year as a Cougar.
Defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Brent Pry said Parsons has "a special skillset," and Franklin tends to agree.
"He can flat out run and run by people," the coach said. "There are times were he'll backdoor the play and go two gaps back, and you really shouldn't do that. You're saying, 'No, no, no.' But then he makes a tackle for loss in the backfield, so it's like, 'No, no, no, yes, yes, yes.' "
There are still some things Parsons needs to work on. Franklin said the No. 5 recruit in the country has to find a stance he's comfortable in — a legitimate challenge for a newbie at the position.
It's still early, though. Parsons has about 150 days before his college football debut.
Whether he plays middle or outside linebacker come Sept. 1, the staff isn't sure. But in the meantime, all signs point to the latter.
"He's kind of dabbled in both," Pry told the CDT. "Right now, he's playing a bunch of snaps on the outside."
Added Franklin: "So far, so good."