Recruit Of The Week: Damion Barber
James Franklin and his staff had a busy Saturday. While a large faction of Penn Staters were recognizing State Patty’s Day, the football program held its Junior Day and picked up three commits: Micah Parsons, Yetur Matos, and Damion Barber. All three are defensive ends and the latter two are part of Franklin’s class of 2017.
Barber was the second to commit, after Parsons and preceding Matos. The 6-foot-3, 240-pound Harrisburg native is a three-star recruit and is the No. 12 player in Pennsylvania, per the 247Sports Composite. He had offers from in-state programs Pitt and Temple in addition to teams like Virginia Tech, Syracuse, and Rutgers. There were nine total offers on the table but according to Barber, Penn State was too much to pass up.
“It’s close to my hometown plus they’ve been recruiting since I was in high school,” Barber said. “Coach Pry got me to play football and ever since, we had this close relationship.”
“That was my dream school.”
— XC (@DamionOTOD) February 27, 2016
Linebacker U has turned into a defensive lineman factory in recent years, with three Nittany Lions expected to be selected in the upcoming NFL Draft. Carl Nassib set the school single-season sack record and won almost every award he could hope for. Anthony Zettel had a good season in his own right as a defensive tackle, while his partner Austin Johnson declared for the draft early following an outstanding season that included his first career touchdown.
The trio’s graduation opens the door for new faces to shine. Garrett Sickels will return as a starter, while players like Evan Schwan, Curtis Cothran, Parker Cothren, and Antoine White will definitely see some playing time. 2016 signee Shane Simmons headlines yet another class with plenty of D-linemen, but with players’ successes and potential to leave early, why not get more? The loaded roster didn’t sway Barber’s decision to be his class’ third commit.
“To me it wasn’t early, I thought it was the right time and my mom was going to visit only one school,” he said. His mother, stepfather, and grandmother liked Penn State, which certainly made the decision easier.
Parsons and Matos didn’t influence his decision, however. Barber said Parsons disclosed that he’d commit, but Barber’s decision was independent of that. He also said that he didn’t even know Matos committed until he saw it on Twitter. Equally important as the personnel is the timing of their commitments.
“Of course I want our recruiting class to be one of the top in the country and people just seeing us commit, they might end up doing it also,” he said.
Barber’s Hudl highlight reel showcases the talent that Happy Valley will see soon enough. From a defensive touchdown to throwing a player by his jersey, he consistently breaks into the backfield and wreaks havoc.
Brent Pry, Sean Spencer, and the rest of Penn State’s coaching staff have a lot to look forward to in their 2017 class — not only the on-field talent, but the off-field product as well.
“The charity events are good, giving back to the kids because some of them don’t have the opportunity to do the things that I do. So giving back to them and making them feel great and wonderful about themselves is great, and the academics are great,” Barbor said.
“Great place to call home…I love it up there.”