Penn State’s Parsons, Luketa share unbreakable bond
UNIVERSITY PARK — It all began in Beaver Hall.
The dorm Micah Parsons called “legendary” is the site where the friendship between Parsons and fellow linebacker Jesse Luketa first started.
Together, Parsons and Luketa enrolled early during the 2018 spring semester and their college journeys commenced in the same tiny dorm room.
Now, a year and a half later — the two are inseparable.
They can’t even go 45 minutes without arguing about the thermostat in their new apartment.
“I don’t think they leave each other, look at ’em,” defensive tackle PJ Mustipher said, pointing at the duo answering questions together. “I got a brother, I don’t even want to be with him that much. When I was being recruited, I used to come up and stay with them in their room.”
Listening to Parsons and Luketa argue, they sound like brothers. They argue like they’ve known each other for their entire lives. But at the end of the day, they love each other like brothers, too.
Parsons said that there is a “love affair” between both of their families. Because Luketa’s family still lives back in Canada, Parsons said Luketa often spends time with Parsons family in nearby Harrisburg when the team gets short-term breaks throughout the year.
According to Parsons, Luketa even refers to Parsons’ mom as “mom.”
“That’s my right-hand man, someone I know is going to end up being the best man at my wedding,” Luketa said of Parsons on Wednesday. “We’re two peas in a pod.”
Both joked that whenever they actually are spotted alone, teammates and other friends will ask where the other is.
“If somebody else sees me around campus, they’ll ask me like, ‘Oh, where’s Jesse?’ and stuff like that,” Parsons said.
“You see Micah, you see me. You see me, you see Micah,” Luketa added.
Earlier this month, the two attended Game 6 of the NBA Eastern Conference Semifinal series between the Sixers and the Raptors. While Parsons got to have some fun on social media, posting videos of a sad Luketa as the Sixers ran away with that game in Philadelphia, Luketa was ultimately happy with the way the series ended.
“I was talking to Micah, telling him the Raptors were going to get in done in Philadelphia [in Game 6],” Luketa said. “It turns out Philadelphia got the best of the Raptors [in Game 6] and Micah had me on Snapchat, all of the videos and everything. It ended up Toronto won the series so I was happy I got the last laugh.”
But for as much as Parsons and Luketa enjoy spending time with each other off the field, it’s standing side-by-side on the field that will bring them the most joy.
While Parsons was named a Freshman All-American last season after leading the Nittany Lions in tackles, despite making only one start, Luketa featured mainly on special teams.
Now heading into his sophomore season, Luketa wants to play a bigger role on a defense that’s shaping up to be one of the best in the Big Ten, if not the country.
“For myself, I’ve set expectations to be a key contributor on the defensive side of the ball [and] continue to contribute on special teams,” Luketa said. “From here to training camp, the one thing I have on my board in my room that I look at everyday is to just keep coming to work, being consistent and earn the respect from my teammates and my coaches to put myself in the best position to be a key contributor.”
Although there is a bevy of talent in the linebacker corps heading into next season, Luketa has Parsons to help push him every day this offseason as he works to achieve that goal.
“We push each other in workouts,” Luketa said. “When I get tired, Micah’s there to pick me up. When he gets tired, I’m there to pick him up. We hold each other to a higher standard than I feel like anyone else would. The fact that we have such a close-knit relationship, it goes beyond football.”
Losing senior leaders such as Nick Scott and Koa Farmer after last season, both Parsons and Luketa have taken bigger leadership roles in the locker room.
“Definitely more vocal,” Mustipher said on what’s different between Parsons and Luketa this offseason. “You can’t be as vocal if you haven’t been on the field yet and you’ve got to be able to produce. So after last season, they stepped up their vocal role on the team and I’m one of the guys that when they talk, I’m listening too. I know they want the best for this team.”
Parsons isn’t shy about what he wants for Penn State. He wants to deliver national championships and he’ll be the first to tell you that this group of Nittany Lions — although young — has the talent to do so.
Yes, these young Nittany Lions have talent. But because they’re still young, they haven’t proven much of anything to anyone yet. For now, that’s exactly how they want it.
“You want people to sleep on you so it keeps you going,” Parsons said. “We haven’t really done nothing yet. So when we do something it’s going to wake ’em up. They can sleep on you all they want, but you gotta wake ’em up. We’ve got a chance to do that with this class this year.”