Update: Parsons has officially committed to Penn State. Click here for the details.
Micah Parsons, a five-star defensive end from Harrisburg High School, was the first recruit to commit to Penn State's freshman class of 2018 until he decided about 14 months later that he wanted to receive renewed attention from the colleges that originally had pursued him.
However, when the 6-foot-3, 236-pound Parsons announces his college choice Wednesday morning, the first day of the early signing period for high school recruits, the expectation is that he'll be putting on a hat that has a Nittany Lion on the front.
"Penn State has been all you've heard about for the last month with him," Brian Dohn, national recruiting analyst for 247Sports, said Tuesday. "So I think they're in good shape. But if there's one thing I've learned in doing this job is, 18-year-olds change their minds when you least expect them to."
Parsons, a consensus top-10 recruit, also was considering Georgia, Alabama, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Ohio State. The Buckeyes have not recruited Parsons since self-reporting a violation to the NCAA relating to his official visit to the school on Sept. 9, according to the Lantern, Ohio State's student newspaper.
During the visit, Parsons met with members of ESPN's College GameDay on the show's set, a violation of NCAA recruiting rules, the newspaper said.
Parsons' signing with Penn State would give a significant boost to an already excellent class recruited by James Franklin and his staff, a group ranked fifth by 247Sports and ESPN.com and sixth by Rivals.
The Lions' 20 commitments are expected to sign national letters of intent on Wednesday, the first day of the three-day signing period. The list is led by a pair of five-star talents – wide receiver Justin Shorter of Monmouth Junction, N.J., and running back Ricky Slade of Woodbridge, Va.
"When you're looking at guys like Justin Shorter and Ricky Slade, they're five-star guys," Dohn said. "That's as high as we can rank somebody and that's what jumps out to me. And if you can get Micah Parsons, you're getting phenomenal athletes who should be able to make a significant contribution as true freshmen."
Besides Parsons, Penn State is in play for other four-star players who have yet to announce their choice of college. Defensive end Jayson Oweh of Blairstown, N.J., is considering Michigan, Ohio State and Notre Dame in addition to the Nittany Lions. Defensive lineman Tyreke Smith of Cleveland Heights, Ohio, is said to have Alabama, Ohio State, Oregon, Penn State and Southern California as his finalists.
In addition, wide receiver Jahan Dotson of Nazareth, Pa., who gave an oral commitment to UCLA before head coach Jim Mora Jr., was fired, is expected to make his college announcement on Wednesday with Penn State considered the favorite over Rutgers, Syracuse, Wisconsin and UCLA, Dohn said.
The Lions' new freshman class includes one Philadelphia area player, linebacker Nick Tarburton of Pennridge High School. Penn State received a commitment last July from safety Isheem Young of Imhotep Charter but is believed to have rescinded its scholarship offer after Young's arrest earlier this month on robbery charges.
This is the first year that an early signing period has been included on the recruiting calendar. The regular first-Wednesday-in-February signing day, which is on Feb. 7, remains.
Franklin said there are benefits to early signing.
"In the beginning, recruiting is awesome and it sounds great," he said. "But by the end, everybody's had enough of it, so it allows you to kind of move on from these guys and start filling the last few spots you have and start working on that next recruiting class and those kinds of things."
Penn State football’s expected 2018 recruiting class
Shaquon Anderson-Butts WR 6-0 ½ 200 Harrisburg (Pa.)
Nanu Asiedu OT 6-6 265 North Stafford (Va.)
Judge Culpepper DE 6-5 255 Plant Senior (Fla.)
Bryce Effner OT 6-5 275 Metea Valley (Ill.)
Patrick Freiermuth TE 6-5 230 Brooks School (Mass.)
Daniel George WR 6-1 200 Oxon Hill (Md.)
Trent Gordon CB 5-11 172 Manuel (Texas)
Aeneas Hawkins DT 6-3 265 Archbishop Moeller (Ohio)
Isaiah Humphries S 5-11 185 Sachse (Texas)
Charlie Katshir LB 6-3 195 Cumberland Valley (Pa.)
Zach Kuntz TE 6-7 215 Camp Hill (Pa.)
Will Levis QB 6-4 222 Xavier (Conn.)
Jesse Luketa LB 6-3 220 Mercyhurst Prep (Pa.)
Jordan Miner CB 6-1 180 Wiregrass Ranch (Fla.)
P.J. Mustipher DT 6-4 272 McDonogh School (Md.)
Jake Pinegar K 6-1 193 Ankeny Centennial (Iowa)
Fredrick "Juice" Scruggs OL 6-3 265 Cathedral Prep (Pa.)
Justin Shorter WR 6-3 205 South Brunswick (N.J.)
Ricky Slade RB 5-10 190 C.D. Hylton (Va.)
Nick Tarburton LB 6-4 240 Pennridge (Pa.)