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Penn State Football: Franklin Talks Potential Micah Parsons Return

by on September 17, 2020 2:58 PM

Penn State star linebacker Micah Parsons may very well have turned the page on his collegiate career, but James Franklin opened the door ever so slightly for a potential return on Thursday afternoon while talking to reporters.

"You always keep the door [open]," Franklin said with a laugh. "I think there's obviously a big difference between somebody that opted out a week ago compared to somebody that opted out multiple weeks ago. It just makes it more complicated. So it was pretty fun, you know, hitting Micah up right after [the Big Ten announced a return to play] then watching all the fans go and crazy."

Parsons return would require a handful of different bridges to be crossed before it could actually happen. The future NFL hopeful -citing COVID-19 concerns for him and his young son- opted out of the upcoming season prior to the Big Ten's announcement in August that it would not play the fall season.

In turn, the subsequent reversal of that decision by the league would seemingly not impact Parsons' line of thinking. Although the conference's commitment to daily COVID-19 testing is likely a higher rate than Parsons would be otherwise be receiving, perhaps a motivating factor for a return if his concerns about safety are first on his mind.

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Additionally, Parsons has not publicly indicated that he has signed with an agent, but he was expected to do so following his departure. Under normal NCAA circumstances, hiring an agent makes a player no longer eligible for NCAA competition. It's unclear if the NCAA would rule more favorably for Big Ten athletes who opted out of the season but wished to return following Thursday's news. Especially as Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren stated that a return to play "would not be revisited" only to subsequently be revisited.

"So we'll see how it all plays out," Franklin added. "But it obviously it makes it more complicated, the longer [players have] been gone. But I also know that Micah, as well as others, probably wouldn't be in this situation if it wasn't for the circumstances we're under. So again, I don't think that anybody — the NCAA, the Big Ten and Penn State specifically — can just kind of put this in the same box that it's always been in because nothing right now is like it's always been.

"So we'll see. I'm as you know I'm a positive guy so I'm going to try to see if there's a way we can work it out and get him back here if it's in everybody's best interest."

Parsons has not commented publicly on the prospect of his return. Junior tight end Pat Freiermuth ended increasing speculation that he was set to depart on Wednesday during an interview with the Big Ten Network, clearing the air and officially confirming his intent to play at Penn State this upcoming seasoN.

So is Parsons set to return? Time will tell, but Franklin certainly didn't drive the nail into the coffin.

Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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