Linebacker Micah Parsons, a potential top-10 selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, announced Thursday he will not play for Penn State this season and will instead prepare for the next level.
"Honestly, this was the hardest decision I've ever had to make," he told Penn Live.
ESPN's Todd McShay ranks him as the No. 6 prospect in the nation. He becomes the third potential first-round pick to opt out of the season, joining wide receiver Rashod Bateman of Minnesota and cornerback Caleb Farley of Virginia Tech.
In a video on Instagram announcing his decision, Parsons said that despite the precautions the school instituted to keep players safe, he didn't want to risk contracting the coronavirus and spreading it to his 2-year-old son, Malcolm. That consideration, he said, "far outweighed my urge to play football this season."
From Harrisburg, Pa., Parsons was ranked as the No. 5 player overall in the Class of 2018 by the 247Sports composite.
In two seasons with the Nittany Lions, he played in 26 games and recorded 192 tackles, including 19 for loss, to go along with 6.5 sacks and six forced fumbles.
In 2019, Parsons was a consensus All-American. In the Cotton Bowl last December, in which Penn State beat Memphis 53-39, Parsons had 14 tackles, two sacks, three TFLs and two forced fumbles. That was his eighth game of the season with at least 10 tackles.
Parsons said he will take his remaining four classes online and plans to graduate in December.
--Field Level Media