LaVar Arrington on Micah Parsons: ‘I see myself’
LaVar Arrington has been scrutinizing Micah Parsons’ practice tape from afar and likes what he sees.
The Penn State linebacking legend texts Micah regularly with praise and pointers, dos and don’ts.
Arrington expressed genuine excitement over the potential flashed by both Micah and the rest of the Nittany Lions’ defense. But mostly, when he watches the five-star recruit from Harrisburg who is on a path to start at outside linebacker as a true freshman, Arrington sees himself.
And not just because Micah is wearing Arrington’s No. 11.
Micah Parsons, wearing LaVar Arrington’s No. 11, could be the rare “unicorn” at linebacker, something not seen since Arrington’s days.File
“He is to me – and I want to be careful in saying this – he is almost like the closest thing to me coming out of high school,” Arrington said in a recent phone interview with PennLive.
“What shocked and blew me away is he is the same size as me,” Arrington added of the 6-3, 240-pound Parsons, who is likely bigger than that now.
“I am one of the bigger linebackers. And what makes it more interesting, he can move,” added Arrington, who played at PSU from 1997-99 and made three Pro Bowls during a seven-year NFL career. “Guys who can do what I was able to do and move the way I moved and play the way I played at my size – it’s a real rarity. You got a better chance of seeing a unicorn.”
Arrington said Micah is that unicorn. He calls him a Division I-caliber running back playing linebacker, and that makes perfect sense to Arrington, who sees the positions as mirror images.
“The way you move and the way you read the play are the same,” said Arrington, who recently took a high school head coaching job in California. “Split the blockers. Don’t get caught up. That is going to be his biggest challenge, getting off of the block.”
READ MORE: Micah’s ‘rollercoaster’ journey from pee wee football to Penn State
Aside from the various pointers Arrington passes on, he urged Parsons to study up on the history of the game and the storied team he’s now playing for. Only then can Micah place himself and what he’s attempting to accomplish in the proper context at PSU.
“He is endeavoring to be one of the greatest to ever do it at Penn State,” Arrington said. “I look at him as a generational player. The most impactful thing he could do is be a human being to people who see him as a super human figure.”
Already, Micah’s father, Terrence Parsons, said he’s using Arrington’s unexpected praise to further motivate his son, who has a history of not being the best practice player.
“This is Lavar, Mr. Linebacker U, saying, ‘We got a bad boy up there now, maybe the greatest to ever wear No. 11’,” Terrence said. “For him to anoint Micah like that before he had a practice, that sent shivers up my spine. I said son, ‘You really got to work now. It is a blessing in disguise. Live up to that’.”
Arrington, however, differs with all the pressure for Parsons to start at linebacker as a true freshman.
“I actually subscribe to a guy getting limited playing time and learning the game and watching the game,” he said. “I didn’t start until my sophomore year when we started the Big 10 conference games. I dominated special teams because I wanted everyone to know I was coming.”
In the end, Micah’s greatness will depend as much on his teammates as it does him.
“I was just a cog in a machine,” Arrington said. “The same thing exists here for Micah.”
So far, Arrington likes what he sees around Parsons.
“It’s a compliment if a team is good enough to give a baby an opportunity to start walking instead of crawling,” Arrington said. “You get the feeling this coaching staff knows how to allow these young men to grow into what it is they are supposed to be. That is an exciting feeling to see that type of talent be connected to that type of leadership.”
Exciting, because what Arrington ultimately sees is a defense good enough to contend for championships.
“There are some special dudes on that team,” Arrington said. “But the only way you are truly special is if it all comes together and the players together are special. That’s the only way it collectively happens to have national titles and the opportunity to play for them.”