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Micah Parsons won’t return to Nittany Lions; athletic department says COVID positive rate improves | Penn State notes

Parsons, a consensus All-America last season, opted out on Aug. 6 to begin preparations for the 2021 NFL draft.

Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons on the bench in the fourth quarter of a 2019 game against Idaho.
Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons on the bench in the fourth quarter of a 2019 game against Idaho.Read moreBarry Reeger / AP

Penn State’s athletic department reported Wednesday that 16 athletes tested positive for COVID-19 out of 987 tests conducted from Sept. 19 through 25. Nine test results were pending.

The 1.6% positive rate was an improvement over the previous week, when a 2.4% rate was calculated from 20 positive results out of 830 athletes tested.

Parsons will not return

Penn State coach James Franklin confirmed Wednesday that All-America linebacker Micah Parsons will not be returning to the Nittany Lions.

Parsons, who played two seasons for the Lions, opted out on Aug. 6 to start preparing for the 2021 NFL draft, where he is expected to be a top-10 pick. Franklin decided to gauge his interest in returning following the Sept. 16 return of a Big Ten football season, but Parsons stuck to his decision.

“We’re had great conversations with Micah and both his mom and dad,” Franklin said on a Zoom call with reporters. "I think there was a legitimate possibility for [a return] to happen. But as we continued to talk and continued to work with it, the timing of it made it challenging.

“He had been gone for so long and had been in California training. That made it a little bit more complicated than we were able to work through. So that won’t be happening and we understand the decision, just like we were on the front end, supportive of the decision.”

With Parsons gone, the Lions lost all three starting linebackers from last season, but Franklin called it “a position of strength.” Five players — juniors Jesse Luketa and Ellis Brooks, sophomores Brandon Smith and Charlie Katshir, and redshirt freshman Lance Dixon — are in the mix for the starting jobs.

» READ MORE: Penn State football enters new phase of preseason practice while remaining cautious

What the patches might say

Franklin said he is in discussions with the university administration and his players' leadership council about patches on the Nittany Lions' uniforms this season and what they might say about social injustice.

“When it comes to social issues, there’s always this fine line of how we represent ourselves,” he said, “how we do it in a way that aligns with our university and our community. That’s not always easy to do, to make all those different groups comfortable with how you’re expressing.”

Franklin added, “We do have a plan,” but did not elaborate.

In July, the NCAA playing rules oversight panel passed rules allowing athletes in all sports to wear patches on their uniforms to support social justice issues, or for commemorative and memorial purposes.

» READ MORE: Penn State to open Big Ten season Oct. 24 at Indiana, takes on Ohio State in Week 2 at home