Penn State recruiting mailbag: Micah Parsons impresses early, Nittany Lions aim high in 2019 class

Have Penn State football recruiting questions? We have answers. Join us every Thursday for the Land of 10 Penn State recruiting mailbag to discuss Nittany Lions recruiting. This week, we discuss 2018 signees who could make an immediate impact and remaining targets beyond the early signing period.

Penn State recruiting efforts are relentless, so we always have plenty to address here. Let’s get started.

Micah Parsons remains a popular topic in our discussions nearly two months after he arrived at Penn State as the program’s highest-ranked prospect since 2005. This latest inquiry from Randy came during our weekly Facebook Live show (8 p.m. Wednesdays here).

Parsons, a 6-foot-3, 240-pound early enrollee, starred at running back, linebacker and defensive end at Harrisburg (Pa.) High School. He earned U.S. Army All-American Bowl Defensive Player of the Year as a senior and signed with Penn State on Dec. 20 after considering schools such as Alabama, Georgia, Nebraska and Oklahoma.

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Though most recruiting-industry outlets listed Parsons as a 5-star defensive end recruit, there always was a realistic possibility of him landing at linebacker in college. It became clear that would be the case, at least to start, within hours of his December announcement.

“We’re going to play Micah Parsons at Mike linebacker this spring and see how that goes,” Nittany Lions coach James Franklin said. “We know he can move back to defensive end. But we’re going to have him here for spring ball and see if he can do that.”

Praise since has followed from legendary Penn State linebacker LaVar Arrington and defensive coordinator Brent Pry. During a Wednesday afternoon workout open to media members, Parsons again garnered attention while lifting in a group with fellow linebackers Jesse Luketa, Jarvis Miller and Nick Tarburton.

The results there, by the way: 13 reps of 365 pounds.

“Every time he kind of does something great everyone is like, ‘Wow,’” Dwight Galt, Penn State’s director of performance enhancement, said. “I’m like, ‘Did you watch his high school film? Why are you surprised?’”

Early reviews are in, and Parsons is living up to the hype. At least to the level a football player can without yet putting on pads.

The first true test for his ability to contribute at linebacker in 2018 will occur in the upcoming spring camp. The Nittany Lions relied on a savvy, productive, veteran at middle linebacker in 2017 when Jason Cabinda patrolled there, and he left behind large shoes for any player to fill, much less a freshman.

micah parsons-recruiting-penn state
Micah Parsons dominated at Harrisburg High School and hasn’t disappointed early with the Nittany Lions. (Tyler Donohue/Land of 10)

Let’s keep the linebacker conversation rolling along…

Mike is one of at least five Land of 10 readers who have reached out regarding Malvern Prep junior Keith Maguire in the past week. We’ve previously discussed Penn State’s decreased presence on the 2019 recruiting trail in Pennsylvania, and fans are wondering if the Nittany Lions will make a move.

Maguire, a 6-2, 215-pound linebacker, is listed as a 3-star recruit in composite rankings but his latest college offers indicate a greater value. Alabama, Clemson, Michigan State, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Texas A&M and Virginia Tech are among programs that have offered since Jan. 27.

That’s a group that includes four coaches with national championships: Nick Saban, Dabo Swinney, Jimbo Fisher and Urban Meyer.

So what’s up with the lack of a Nittany Lions offer?

Rather than speculating, I intend to speak with Maguire soon about his recruitment process and the level of engagement he’s received from Penn State. The Nittany Lions are clearly aiming high at linebacker in the 2019 class, evidenced by offers outside the state, and Pennsylvania prospects Maguire and Kyi Wright are names to know if the staff circles back to re-assess in-state options.

It’s pretty evident why Power 5 teams are targeting Maguire in bunches. His junior season featured 170 tackles, 5 sacks and 3 interceptions in 2017,  according to Irish Illustrated writer Kevin Sinclair.

Watch Maguire’s 2017 season highlights here:

OK, we’ve got time for one more question so let’s get to it…

This is becoming a growing trend among Penn State fans who contact Land of 10 on social media. They’re not pushing the panic button but, after seeing Franklin sign his finest recruiting class, folks are wondering why positive momentum isn’t equating to tangible results on the 2019 trail.

The Nittany Lions enter March with a pair of pledges: local State College cornerback Keaton Ellis and New Jersey quarterback Taquan Roberson. Both players are listed as 3-star prospects in 247Sports 2019 composite rankings.

By the beginning of March 2017, Penn State carried 2018 commitments from four eventual 5-star talents (Parsons, receiver Justin Shorter, running back Ricky Slade and quarterback Justin Fields), two top-10 tight ends (Zack Kuntz and Pat Freiermuth) and impressive defensive prospects from near (Pennsylvania linebackers Jesse Luketa, Charlie Katshir and Nick Tarburton) and far (Texas safety Isaiah Humphries).

They combined to create a substantial foundation, and Penn State actually sat atop national class rankings through much of last spring. It’s fair to say the Nittany Lions are still gathering foundational pieces here, but as a wise man once told a large Pennsylvania sports fan base… trust the process!

Franklin & Co. are aiming high with 2019 targets, extending offers to 42 top-100 overall prospects. Spring visits will reshape the landscape with several targets, and Penn State camps in June and July will continue to do the same.

Last cycle, the Nittany Lions went through a slight lull in pledges between April and early summer. The difference is Penn State already had pieced together a pretty deep stockpile before then.

I anticipate a similar commitment spree this summer, though the pledge total probably won’t approach where it was entering the 2017 season (21 players). Penn State effectively is selling a national brand after its second straight 11-win season, came through several offseason coaching changes in good shape, and appears primed to build another outstanding class regardless of how the numbers look now.

Have a question about Penn State recruiting? Tweet us  @Landof10PSU and we’ll try to answer it in a future mailbag. Check to see if your issue already was addressed by reading previous Penn State recruiting mailbags  here.

The post Penn State recruiting mailbag: Micah Parsons impresses early, Nittany Lions aim high in 2019 class appeared first on Land of 10.

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