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Parsons opts out, Freiermuth to play

UNIVERSITY PARK — Without a doubt, the biggest star on the defensive side of the football in the past few seasons for the Nittany Lions was Micah Parsons.

Parsons’ playmaking ability coupled with an incredible amount of athleticism makes him a projected first-round pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.

On Tuesday night, Parsons decided to opt out of the 2020 college football season and will declare for the draft, first reported by Yahoo Sports’ Eric Edholm. According to Edholm, multiple sources close to home are expecting him to leave, barring a last-minute change of heart.

Parsons made an immediate impact for Penn State and led the team with 82 tackles as a true freshman. He was arguably the best linebacker in the nation a season ago, registering 109 tackles, 14 of which went for a loss, along with five sacks. He was named an All-American and was the Big Ten Linebacker of the Year in 2019.

His talent was on full display in Penn State’s 53-39 win over Memphis in the Cotton Bowl last season, where Parsons tied a career-high with 14 tackles, three tackles for loss, two sacks and two forced fumbles. He was recognized as the game’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player.

Parsons was also on multiple awards watch lists and was a preseason All-American entering the 2020 season. He is the nation’s third high profile player to skip the 2020 season as a Virginia Tech’s defensive back Caleb Farley and Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman also will sit out. Both players could also be first-round picks next season.

After Parsons’ decision, speculation started to grow around star tight end Pat Freiermuth and whether or not he would return in 2020, after returning to PSU despite being draft eligible. Freiermuth quieted that rumor tweeting a GIF that read, “Ooohh, Close. But Definitely wrong.” Freiermuth figures to be a big part of the Penn State offense in 2020, as he hauled in 43 receptions for 507 yards and seven scores in 2019. Freiermuth is on the John Mackey Award watch list — an award given to the nation’s top tight end — as well as the Biletnikoff Award watch list, which is given annually to college football’s top receiver, regardless of position.

The Big Ten Conference announced its revised 2020 regular season schedule on Wednesday morning, after the conference decided that there will be no regular season non-conference matchups due to COVID-19.

The conference schedule will span 12 weeks with each team having two open dates. The Big Ten schedule allows the season to start as early as Sept. 5, but also allows for the season to be delayed until Sept. 12, Sept. 19 or Sept. 26 where games can be made up at one of the open dates.

Penn State will kick off the 2020 season on Friday, Sept. 5 when it hosts Northwestern.

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