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Penn State Football: Parsons At Linebacker, What He Should Know

by on December 27, 2017 1:30 PM

PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. -- Penn State's linebacker position is nothing if not in dire need of help during the 2018 season. Something all too obvious as the Nittany Lions prepare for the final game of the 2017 campaign, the final game of many careers for veteran players on both sides of the ball.

The biggest issue, bluntly, next season is that seven of the 11 linebackers will be freshman or redshirt freshman.

If nothing else, the departure of Jason Cabinda at middle linebacker will create a vacancy in the heart of the defense and a top priority to fill sooner rather than later as spring practice rolls along.

Enter incoming freshman Micah Parsons, an athletic freak capable of playing nearly any position, and according to James Franklin, slotting to try out the inside linebacker position from Day 1.

A tough task? You bet.

Washington inside linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven:

"It's definitely one of those things that you have to have a feel for it. I've been there for three years now and you kind of start to see things and you get used to the keys. And once you recognize those keys it becomes a bit of a chess match and you can anticipate."

"It's tough, it's tough sledding, but sometimes you get guys who are ready and if you're ready. It's a tough gig to do physically and mentally, it's a tough gig to put on a kid." 

Penn State inside linebacker Jason Cabinda:

"I think it takes time, there's no doubt about it. There's no doubt that those first few games were a little shaky for me. Obviously for me I had never taken a snap at Mike until practice that week, so that's a kind of abnormal situation. But it takes time, you've got to be able to see the whole formation, see a lot of things, you've got to anticipate a lot, you've got to get guys lined up. It's a lot of responsibility."

"You have to really know the playbook in and out. You've got to know what is going on around you. It's tough but it takes time. I think maybe by the fifth, sixth game I was feeling more comfortable."

"Just having patience, a lot of film would be huge. That's really the biggest thing I would preach is just patience. I know I wanted to have it happen like this over night.

"You've gotta be up to the task [To play as a freshman] but I think there are a few characteristics or things in order to play the Mike position. You've got to be a guy who has no problems opening your mouth and telling guys to line up. If you're a freshman coming in you're going to have to tell seniors 'hey you need to be here, you need to be there' and I think a guy like Micah Parsons has the personality to do that."

Only time will tell if Parsons stays at the middle linebacker spot, but there's no doubting his talent. And if Penn State can manage to get him into the biggest area of need and keep him there, the Nittany Lions will be in good shape in the early phases of 2018.

"He's very knowledgeable," Penn State defensive coordinator Brent Pry added. "He understands the game. His skill set would say that he could do it. We're fortunate because Micah, Nick Tarburton and Jesse Luketa will all be with us come January 8, so they'll have a chance to learn the system and also for us to evaluate where they're at as a football player more closely.

"This spring, to be honest, we'll probably roll a couple guys through there. Luketa will get an opportunity, Tarburton will get an opportunity, Ellis Brooks will obviously get an opportunity, Cam Brown's gonna have an opportunity, I even told Koa, 'Don't be surprised, buddy.' His eyes got kinda big, but Koa could go through there."

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