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Penn State football final camp updates: James Franklin says Deion Barnes is ‘way ahead’ of expectations

According to James Franklin, new Penn State defensive line coach Deion Barnes has been exceeding expectations through fall camp.



Penn State Football, defensive line, James Franklin, Deion Barnes
Jul 26, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin speaks to the media during the Big 10 football media day at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

It was a relatively quiet offseason for Penn State football in terms of coaching moves. One “new face” to the full-time Penn State coaching staff is quite familiar to the Nittany Lion faithful, as fans were almost universally ecstatic when former letterman Deion Barnes was promoted from a graduate assistant to be the new defensive line coach. Just passing 30 years old, many wonder how Barnes’s first big-time college coaching opportunity will pan out this fall. Well, according to James Franklin, Barnes has been a hit both in the locker room and among the coaching staff.

New Penn State assistant coach Deion Barnes is “way ahead” of expectations, says James Franklin

With fall camp behind us, Penn State fans are clamoring for their first look at the 2023 Nittany Lions. Several questions still need to be answered about this year’s team, one of which is how the defensive will respond under new leadership.

When asked how Deion Barnes has handled his first camp as a position coach on Wednesday after practice, James Franklin sang the praises of his new assistant. “Really good,” Franklin said of Barnes’s work in camp. “His players love him. He’s very, very, very demanding. He’s very transparent and authentic with them, which I think is important.”

While acknowledging that the young coach still has to grow in his role, Franklin explained that, on almost every level, Barnes is exceeding expectations.

“There’s still some growth that’s happening every day with going from being a GA to a full-time coach in a top-10 program in a Power Five institution. There’s an adjustment period, but he’s handled it extremely well,” Franklin expressed. “He’s probably way ahead of where most people would expect and anticipate. That’s coaching guys on the field; that’s meeting room expectations; that’s teaching scheme; that’s recruiting. He’s doing really well. I’m proud of him.”

On and off the field, defensive line is looking good

In just a few months on the job, Deion Barnes has been making a statement with his defensive line unit. In July, Barnes landed three top defensive line prospects, including the No. 1 player in Massachusetts Liam Andrews and the No. 3 player in Pennsylvania Mylachi Williams.

Despite several injuries, the unit seems poised to make a jump on the field this fall. This week, sophomore DT Zane Durant told the media that he believes Penn State will have “the best defensive line in the nation” in 2023.

Barnes, and Penn State football, will face their first test Saturday night, when the Nittany Lions take on West Virginia in Beaver Stadium.

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A third-generation Penn Stater, Matt is Editor-in-Chief for Basic Blues Nation, co-host of the podcast PSU Tailgate Talk, and a credentialed member of the Penn State football media. Matt also works as a staffer in the Pennsylvania General Assembly. Matt lives in central Pennsylvania with his wife and a small army of pets.