Penn State Football: National Title Aspirations Make Headlines, But Parsons' Confidence Will Help Win Games
If there is anything you can gauge about Micah Parsons' personality — even from a distance — it's that he is incredibly confident.
Considering the wild recruiting cycle he authored, this doesn't exactly come as a shock. You also don't end up successfully changing positions your freshman year of college without a healthy amount of self-belief. And you don't end up being one of the nation's top recruits because you only sort of believe in yourself.
Nor do you attempt to change entire football programs without thinking you can.
“When I committed early, I wanted to bring Penn State back, and me and the team are going to do that this year,” Parsons told reporters on a conference call Tuesday morning, his first media session of his collegiate career.
“People sleep on us, but this is the fastest our defense has ever been, we’re moving good, we’re healthy, and I think Penn State is back.”
Speaking for nearly half an hour to reporters over the phone, Parsons was an advocate for everyone. He advocated for both quarterbacks Tommy Stevens and Sean Clifford. He advocated for the defensive tackles, for the offensive line, for defensive coordinator Brent Pry and head coach James Franklin.
He told you about the players you've seen before, and the ones you're still itching to catch a real glimpse of.
It was as much about everyone else as it was about himself.
“No one has seen [receiver] Justin Shorter pop out yet. We have so much speed, young guys, and juice that in the next two years you’re going to definitely see us in the national playoffs, if not this year," Parsons said. "I think it’s going to get scary for the Big Ten. I don’t think there’s a lot of people who can match up with us up top. I think we’re going to really surprise people this year.
“I tell [recruits], this isn’t the same Penn State it was five, six years ago. We’re here to win championships."
Parsons might be talking a big game, and given the questions this team faces heading into 2019, it might feel a little overly ambitious, but national titles don't happen when you set your sights on third place. And given his propensity for confidence, it would be a surprise if he was settling for anything else.
Nevertheless, as he talked about Penn State's upcoming season and national title ambitions on the horizon, he starts to make you believe it isn't out of the question. If nothing else, he certainly does a good job selling it.
“It’s not about the stars. It’s about who can play football," Parsons added. "I think we have a great chance of being great. Go to a school because you love it and want to bring championships here. That’s what I’m telling [recruits] and what I’m believing.”
As for his own personal goals, Parsons is looking to build off his 82-tackle freshman season. And to him it's not about the plays he made, but the ones that missed out on.
But once again, he knows he will make them this time around.
"I'm lean, I'm healthy, my body is looking fresh," Parsons said. "[Fans are] going to see me much faster this year because I'm not hesitating...[I'm] playing like I've been here before. I'm ready to prove myself. I feel like I still have a chip on my shoulder. There's still a lot to prove."
There's still a lot for Penn State to prove as a team, but if the Nittany Lions head into the season with the same mindset as their rising star, they might be able to prove a lot of people wrong, and prove that Parsons' confidence wasn't misplaced.