Someday, when James Franklin writes a book about his experiences as a head football coach, he could devote the majority of it to the extended recruiting process that led to Harrisburg High School standout Micah Parsons signing with Penn State.
Parsons, rated a consensus top-10 player by all the major recruiting services, announced Wednesday morning that he will continue his football career with the Nittany Lions, ending a whirlwind 22-month odyssey that included a previous commitment to, and decommitment from, the program. He is projected as a linebacker or defensive end.
Franklin said Wednesday his book would “probably be five chapters on my career and then 15 chapters on the ups and downs and twists and turns and the journey of Micah Parsons and the commitments, the second-guessing, and all the people that felt like they had an opinion in this and what he should or shouldn’t do.
“Fortunately for us, at the end of the day we built a strong relationship with mom. We built a very strong relationship with dad by the end of the process, the high school coach, and a bunch of people in that community. I think it helped he has a high school teammate [freshman Damion Barber] in our program that’s doing really well. I think there are a lot of factors … the fact that we’ve been involved with him since he was in ninth grade.”
Parsons, whose signing to a national letter of intent marked the third consecutive year Penn State has attracted the top high school player in Pennsylvania, highlighted the first day of the early signing period when the Nittany Lions received letters from 21 high school recruits.
With Parsons in the fold, the Lions moved up in the national team recruiting rankings to No. 3 by Rivals, and No. 4 by 247Sports and ESPN.
The 6-foot-3, 245-pound Parsons played defensive end and running back in high school, but Franklin said he will start spring football practice at middle linebacker. The coach added that Parsons is one of six players who will enroll next month at the university.
“There is no doubt in my mind he can play defensive end,” Franklin said. “We have a challenge that we need to solve some linebacker depth issues that we have. We think with him graduating early, he’s got a chance to kind of learn it and have a chance to truly compete for the job come the fall.”
On Feb. 27, 2016, Parsons became Penn State’s first commitment to the 2018 freshman class, but he withdrew his pledge last April 23 and reopened his recruitment. Ranked as the nation’s No. 4 player by 247Sports, No. 5 by Rivals and No. 7 by ESPN, Parsons chose the Lions over Georgia, Alabama, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and Nebraska.
Ohio State had stopped recruiting Parsons, in part because of a self-reported NCAA violation over giving him behind-the-scenes access to a broadcast of ESPN’s “College GameDay” last September in Columbus.
The Nittany Lions received another commitment Wednesday from four-star wide receiver Jahan Dotson of Nazareth (Pa.) Area High School. Dotson originally had committed to UCLA.
Franklin said he thought “we’ll have some more action in the next day or so.” The Lions still are thought to be involved with defensive ends Jayson Oweh of Blairstown, N.J., defensive tackle Tyreke Smith of Cleveland Heights, Ohio, offensive tackle Rasheed Walker of Waldorf, Md., and wide receiver Solomon Enis of Phoenix. Enis is the son of former Penn State and NFL running back Curtis Enis.
Linebacker Nick Tarburton, of Pennridge High School, was identified by Franklin as another player who will enroll next month.
Signed Penn State recruits
Nanu Asiedu OT 6-5 275 North Stafford (Va.)
Judge Culpepper DE 6-4 275 Plant Senior (Fla.)
Jahan Dotson WR 5-11 170 Nazareth Area (Pa.)
Bryce Effner OT 6-5 280 Metea Valley (Ill.)
Pat Freiermuth TE 6-5 250 Brooks School (Mass.)
Daniel George WR 6-2 210 Oxon Hill (Md.)
Trent Gordon CB 6-0 180 Manuel (Texas)
Aeneas Hawkins DT 6-2 280 Archbishop Moeller (Ohio)
Isaiah Humphries S 5-11 190 Sachse (Texas)
Charlie Katshir LB 6-3 215 Cumberland Valley (Pa.)
Zach Kuntz TE 6-7 235 Camp Hill (Pa.)
Will Levis QB 6-3 220 Xavier (Conn.)
Jesse Luketa LB 6-2 240 Mercyhurst Prep (Pa.)
Jordan Miner CB 6-0 180 Wiregrass Ranch (Fla.)
P.J. Mustipher DT 6-4 300 McDonogh School (Md.)
Micah Parsons DE 6-3 245 Harrisburg (Pa.)
Jake Pinegar K 6-2 195 Ankeny Centennial (Iowa)
Fredrick “Juice” Scruggs OL 6-3 270 Cathedral Prep (Pa.)
Justin Shorter WR 6-4 220 South Brunswick (N.J.)
Ricky Slade RB 5-9 185 C.D. Hylton (Va.)
Nick Tarburton LB 6-3 250 Pennridge (Pa.)