Throughout history, Penn State football has been known for its extraordinary linebacker play. In fact, the school has even been given the nickname “Linebacker U” for its reputation at the position.
Over the years, several successful products among the likes of Sean Lee, Paul Posluzny and LaVar Arrington, have donned the blue and white, winning several collegiate honors before moving on to the NFL.
However, it has been a slow and steady rebuild for the Nittany Lions since the sanctions issued to their program by the NCAA in 2012. Although, the recruiting success of James Franklin has Penn State knocking on the door of Big Ten title contention, and the linebacking core is no exception. Penn State’s combination of young talent that has already arrived and those on the way, could revive the Nittany Lions’ “Linebacker U” title in no time.
Micah Parsons has been the spark that has lit the fire in this Penn State defense. Filling a key role as a true freshman, Parsons led the Nittany Lions defense in tackles through the 2018 regular season. This spectacular campaign includes a five-game stretch in Big Ten play where he averaged 7.4 tackles per game.
It only seems reasonable to anticipate Parsons role and ability to only grow as his Penn State career continues.
Parsons has also helped grow Penn State’s brand off the field. He recently contacted current No. 1 nationally ranked recruit, Nolan Smith II. Parsons helped big time in the recruiting of Smith, who had a recent visit to Happy Valley. Following said visit, Smith took to Twitter and expressed just how much he enjoyed his time up at Penn State.
Nolan Smith II
Though he is currently listed at defensive end, he would be open to becoming a linebacker for Penn State due to their already established depth on the defensive front, including first-team all Big Ten selection Yetur-Gross Matos. Smith did commit to Georgia in 2017, but still has time before he makes a final decision. It seems Parsons and Franklin could be working some magic in landing the defensive end, which would be an absolutely huge snag for the Nittany Lions program.
Beyond Smith, Penn State has another star on the horizon. Brandon Smith is a five-star recruit who is already committed to the Nittany Lions and has posted ridiculous numbers in his senior season of high school. The linebacker finished his senior campaign at Louisa County High School with 135 tackles, nine forced fumbles and five sacks. Brandon also took home Gatorade Player of the Year honors in the state of Virginia.
The future of Penn State’s defensive backfield looks to be in safe hands with the recruiting of James Franklin. The stars who are here now and those on the way certainly look to make an impact. It shouldn’t be long now until “Linebacker U” is back on the map.
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