STATE COLLEGE – Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons last month was named a finalist for the Butkus Award, but on Tuesday, the sophomore landed conference-wide recognition as the Big Ten named Parsons its Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year.

Parsons leads the Nittany Lions with 95 tackles, which is 20 more than the team’s second-highest tackler. He’s also tallied three sacks, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery this season.

Parsons ended the regular season with back-to-back, 10-tackle games against Ohio State and Rutgers. He accumulated 10 or more tackles in six games and posted a season- and career-high 14 tackles against Michigan on Oct. 19.

Parsons led the Nittany Lions with 82 tackles last year as a freshman despite not starting a single contest.

Penn State senior punter Blake Gillikin earned the Big Ten’s Sportsmanship Award, which is given to student-athletes “who have distinguished themselves through sportsmanship and ethical behavior.” Gillikin has earned a 4.0 grade-point average in each of his years with the program.

Parsons and Gillikin weren’t the only Nittany Lions player to receive end-of-the-season accolades from the Big Ten.

Junior defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos (39 tackles and 8.5 sacks) joined Parsons as a first-team All-Big Ten selection by the league’s 14 coaches and media members.

Redshirt junior defensive end Shaka Toney (39 tackles, 6.5 sacks and one fumble recovery) was honored as a second-team All-Big Ten selection by league coaches.

Senior linebacker Cam Brown (69 tackles, two sacks, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble) and senior defensive tackle Robert Windsor (38 tackles and 2.5 sacks) were recognized as third-team All-Big Ten selections by league coaches. Brown was named All-Big Ten honorable mention by media.

Junior cornerback Tariq Castro-Fields (48 tackles, two interceptions and eight pass breakups) was named a third-team All-Big Ten selection by media.

Castro-Fields, senior linebacker Jan Johnson, senior cornerback John Reid, senior safety Garrett Taylor and junior safety Lamont Wade all earned distinction as All-Big Ten honorable mention.

Gillikin, redshirt sophomore kick returner KJ Hamler and sophomore kicker Jake Pinegar were named All-Big Ten honorable mention by league coaches and media.

Elton Hayes is a veteran sports writer who covers Penn State for CNHI LLC publications. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter @EHDC12.

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