Before Micah Parsons became one of the NFL’s best players, he terrorized central Pennsylvania high school coaches with his unmatched skills and versatility.
At Central Dauphin and Harrisburg, where Parsons played, he excelled in various positions. He was a running back, kicker, return man, and a formidable force as a defensive end/linebacker.
Mick Vecchio, the retired former head coach of Governor Mifflin, reminisces about Parsons' offensive prowess during a game that knocked Harrisburg out of the Pennsylvania 6A playoffs in 2017: "He would run around us, and he would run over you. The combination of the two, just unbelievable. He was a monster among boys."
Even today, Parsons continues to strike fear into offensive lines and leaves coaches in awe. USA TODAY Sports interviewed several coaches from Parsons' high school playing days to understand his dominance on offense and his impact in all aspects of the game.
Parsons' journey began in eighth grade when he played for the Central Dauphin freshman team. As a freshman, he started on the varsity team as a standout defensive end. In one game, Central Dauphin trailed by six points, and Parsons blocked a punt, recovered the ball, and scored, ultimately leading his team to victory. It was in that season that Penn State recognized his talent and offered him a scholarship.
Glen McNamee, the head coach of Central Dauphin, recalls Parsons' immediate impact, saying, "He was so gifted right off the bat." During his freshman season, Parsons approached McNamee and expressed his desire to play on offense. In a game where Central Dauphin had a comfortable lead, McNamee called Parsons' number on a jet sweep. Despite some timing issues, Parsons broke multiple tackles and gained significant yardage.
Parsons' versatility truly shone in his junior year when he consistently played both offense and defense. McNamee, who has been coaching in the region for over two decades, describes Parsons' talent as generational. He states, "He really was almost unstoppable on offense – catching the ball and running the ball."
Parsons' impact on offense was so significant that some believe he was more productive on that side of the ball than on defense. Despite occasionally taking plays off on defense due to exhaustion, when he had the ball in his hands, he ran downhill, leaving no one eager to stand in his way.
In a game against the New York Jets, Parsons showcased his playmaking ability by stripping the ball from running back Dalvin Cook and nearly returning it for a touchdown. Although the play was called back, it highlighted his natural talent and instincts.
Even in college, where Parsons primarily played as a middle linebacker, he frequently mentioned his rushing and receiving capabilities. His teammate at Penn State, Jahan Dotson, recalls asking Parsons why he wasn't recruited as a receiver. Dotson shares, "He had nothing else to say."
Parsons' impact in the NFL has been remarkable considering his young age and relatively recent high school years. He continues to make a significant impact and solidify his reputation as one of the league's top players.