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New Defensive Line Coach Deion Barnes Expected To Build On Recent Success For Penn State Football

Penn State’s new defensive line coach, Deion Barnes, is stepping into his role with an impressive resume.

The Nittany Lion has been a Big Ten Freshman of the Year, an NFL player, a trainer for defensive linemen in the Philadelphia area, and, most recently, a graduate assistant with Penn State football.

Barnes was promoted to defensive line coach on Monday, making him the newest member of James Franklin’s senior staff. The 30-year-old is taking over a position vacated by John Scott Jr., who left Penn State for the Detroit Lions after three years with the program.

Scott helped to produce NFL draft picks in Arnold Ebiketie, Odafe Oweh, and Shaka Toney while at Penn State. He also worked with Dani Dennis-Sutton in the star defensive end’s first year as a Nittany Lion. Scott’s group held opponents to just 111.8 rushing yards per game last season and just over three yards per rushing attempt.

Barnes will now have the chance to follow Scott’s lead and produce talent of his own. And although Barnes is young, Franklin believes he’s the best man for the job.

“We ended up interviewing a ton of people for it,” Franklin said. “The players and former players felt strongly about me hiring Deion, and ultimately I had to hire the right person.”

Barnes’ time as a graduate assistant allowed him to develop close relationships with many of the players working under him. Barnes will have to shift his approach since he’s in a more senior position, but Franklin feels that his previous experience will pay dividends.

“His ability to relate to the players and recruits is also going to be a strength of his,” he said. “He has the ability to be hard and demanding on them in a way that they respect and can relate.”

As much as Franklin appreciates Barnes on a personal level, his familiarity with the program’s mindset was at the forefront of the hiring decision.

“He understands our culture already. He understands the defensive scheme,” Franklin said.

Barnes’ close ties with Penn State go past simply understanding the culture.

“The other thing that really jumped out to me… You felt his passion for coaching the line… You felt his passion for Penn State,” Franklin said. “You felt his passion for this specific group of defensive linemen that he has a relationship with.”

Barnes will have his first chance to put his stamp on those same defensive linemen in the coming weeks, with 15 spring practices and a Blue-White Game on the horizon. It’ll be his first chance as a coach to make a significant mark on the program, and Franklin thinks that he’ll rise to the occasion.

“I know Deion wants to put his stamp on it. I think we’ll have a better idea for that after spring of what we did well, what we need to build on,” Franklin said.

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About the Author

Joe Lister

Joe is a junior journalism major at Penn State and Onward State's managing editor. He covers Penn State football, among other Penn State sports. He also listens to Mac Miller more than you. If you want to find him, Joe's usually watching soccer with his shirt off or at the gym with his shirt on. For dumb stuff, follow him on Twitter (iamjoelister). For serious stuff, email him ([email protected]).

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