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Franklin announces All-American linebacker won’t return to PSU

Penn State is officially moving on without Micah Parsons.

James Franklin confirmed the expected Wednesday saying Parsons is preparing for the 2021 NFL Draft in California and would not be returning to the Nittany Lions.

The All-American linebacker opted out of Penn State’s season in August, due in part to the uncertainty of the coronavirus, but then hinted on social media at a possible return — as did Franklin — after the Big Ten announced two weeks ago its season would begin on the weekend of Oct. 23-24.

“We had great conversations with Micah and his mom and dad, and I think there was a legitimate possibility (of a return),” Franklin said on a Zoom call with reporters. “But the timing made it more complicated, and that won’t be happening.”

Defensive coordinator Brent Pry said though Parsons’ return wasn’t “cut and dried” — he would have had to apply for an NCAA waiver — Penn State “dove in deep” and weighed the pros and cons with Parsons.

Minnesota receiver Rashod Bateman and Ohio State cornerback Shaun Wade both returned to their teams after opting out.

“Micah was pretty torn,” Pry said.

His absence should elevate the competition at linebacker, Pry said.

Franklin said the position still remains “obviously a position of strength.”

Pry called likely replacement Jesse Luketa “an animal,” and Ellis Brooks is regarded equally. Brandon Smith could be the third starter and freshman Curtis Jacobs was mentioned Wednesday.

“It’s actually created more competition to forget No. 11,” Pry said.

OFF THE FIELD

The Lions have had several players run afoul with the law over the past couple of months.

Cornerback Marquis Wilson was charged with one misdemeanor count of possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia in July.

Running back Devyn Ford and offensive linemen Sal Wormley and Caedan Wallace were charged with drug possession (marijuana) in August. LSD pills were also found in Ford’s apartment.

Linebacker Lance Dixon, cornerbacks Daequan Hardy and Joseph Johnson III and running back Terry Smith were charged with marijuana in their on-campus apartment in September.

Franklin said all remain on the squad and “everything is being handled internally.”

“Our responsibility is to help our young people grow,” he said. “Young people make mistakes, and it’s our job to help them through that.”

He said one player (freshman defensive end Brandon Taylor) was dismissed from the team for violation of rules.

NO OPENING DATE

Most Big Ten teams open Oct. 24, but there’s been speculation the Lions’ debut, at Indiana, may be drafted by the Big Ten Network for Friday, Oct. 23.

It would be their third Friday game in three seasons.

Penn State is awaiting confirmation either way.

Franklin prefers Saturday games, and added, “If we’re going to open on a day except Saturday, we should have been told that ahead of time,” in order to start official practice earlier.

The Lions worked out in helmets and without pads Wednesday.

NOTABLE

• The athletic department confirmed it conducted 987 COVID tests during the week of Sept. 19-25, which produced 16 positive cases.

• A couple of “controlled scrimmages” will be held prior to the opener with an eye on live tackling and special teams, Franklin said.

• Pry said State College’s Keaton Ellis is a candidate to start at corner opposite Tariq Castro-Fields. Other possibilities are Wilson and Joey Porter Jr.

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