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Penn State Football Defensive Line Coach Deion Barnes Proving Himself As Recruiter

Penn State football’s defensive line is on the come-up.

As the Nittany Lions fight to establish themselves as one of the top recruiting classes in the country, they’ve owed some of their recent success to the defensive line. Since the beginning of June, James Franklin has gotten phone calls from three-stars Xavier Gilliam and De’Andre Cook and four-star Mylachi Williams.

Franklin owes plenty to his new defensive line coach, Deion Barnes. Barnes, a former Penn State and NFL defensive lineman, was promoted from his graduate assistant role to defensive line coach just before spring practice in March.

Barnes was hired in part by popular vote from Penn State’s players. He bolstered his ability to connect with players and recruits, and its recently proved valuable through the recruiting cycle.

As with new wide receivers coach Marques Hagans, Barnes already had his defensive line set when he earned his promotion. Chop Robinson, Adisa Isaac, Dani Dennis-Sutton, Zane Durant, and others are set for strong seasons, and while Penn State fans can’t watch how their defensive line is performing in practice quite yet, the first way for Barnes to prove himself is on the recruiting trail.

In all, Barnes’ recruiting cycle has been OK. He didn’t make any big splashes until he snagged Williams on Saturday as his first four-star commitment. Williams is the No. 25 edge rusher in the nation and a commitment that has the potential to get the ball rolling for more high-caliber recruits.

And Barnes is expected to pick up better recruits. Four-star edge rusher Jaylen Harvey canceled his July 4 commitment but he’s still pinned to become a Nittany Lion when all is said and done. If Maryland can’t make a late push for the No. 27 edge rusher in the country, Penn State will have another in the bag.

Then there’s T.A. Cunningham, a defensive lineman hailing from Miami, Florida. While Cunningham isn’t expected to commit soon, Penn State is the only school that he’s taken an official visit to. The No. 29 defensive lineman in the nation would be a nice addition to Barnes’ group.

Recruiting has quieted down for most of Penn State’s position groups. With four committed offensive linemen, the program certainly doesn’t need any more. The same goes for quarterback, running back, cornerback, and most other positions.

It’s now on Barnes to close out the class. He won’t close the cycle with the Nittany Lions’ top-rated recruit, but he does have an opportunity to set his own standard for his next several years of recruiting and to establish himself in college football.

As with everything in college football, it starts on the recruiting trail.

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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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