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Why is Deion Barnes the perfect hire for Penn State football?

The Nittany Lions picked the right man for the job when it comes to coaching Penn State’s defensive line.

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Deion Barnes
Oct 12, 2013; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions defensive end Deion Barnes (18) during the first quarter against the Michigan Wolverines at Beaver Stadium. Penn State defeated Michigan 43-40 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

STATE COLLEGE, PA — On Monday evening, the Penn State football program hired a new man to coach its defensive line unit in 2023. Former Nittany Lion standout Deion Barnes, who previously served as a graduate assistant on James Franklin’s staff, is now Penn State’s full-time defensive line coach. Here is why he is the perfect man for the job.

Penn State makes perfect hire with Deion Barnes

The Penn State Nittany Lions recently lost former defensive line coach John Scott Jr. to the Detroit Lions following their 11-2 season in 2022. Now, heading into 2023, former Penn State football standout Deion Barnes will be coaching the defensive line. During his time as a defensive end at Penn State from 2012-2014, Deion Barnes compiled 99 tackles (48 solo), 26.5 tackles for loss, and 14.0 sacks. Additionally, Barnes recorded four pass deflections and forced five fumbles in the Blue and White.

“I am thrilled and honored to be the defensive line coach for my alma mater,” said Barnes. “I am extremely grateful to Coach Franklin for giving me this opportunity to lead a room of tremendous young men who have worked so hard each and every day. I have a lot of pride and passion for Penn State University, and I am excited to go to work with this coaching staff, this team, my letterman brothers and the best fans in college football.”

Over the past three years, Deion Barnes has served as a grad assistant on James Franklin’s staff, and his hard work has clearly paid off as both head coach James Franklin and defensive coordinator Manny Diaz loved him for this new role. Barnes is proving something that many fans already believe to be true: the best man to coach a Nittany Lion is a former Nittany Lion.

Deion Barnes also carries a few years of professional football experience from his two seasons in the NFL and one season in the AAF. Here are a few of the notable players that Barnes has helped Penn State develop during his second stay in State College:

  • Arnold Ebiketie (Penn State) – Atlanta Falcons; 2022 NFL Draft second-round pick
  • Jesse Luketa (Penn State) – Arizona Cardinals; 2022 NFL Draft seventh-round pick
  • Derrick Tangelo (Penn State) – NFL (2022)
  • Odafe Oweh (Penn State) – Baltimore Ravens; 2021 NFL Draft first-round pick
  • Shaka Toney (Penn State) – Washington Commanders; 2021 NFL Draft seventh-round pick

What does James Franklin say about Barnes?

Here is what Penn State head football coach James Franklin had to say about Barnes via the team’s press release:

“We are excited to have Deion represent his alma mater as our defensive line coach,” said Franklin. “I have really been impressed watching him grow as a coach and leader these last three seasons. Deion’s passion for Penn State and the defensive line room has been a differentiator.

“It is clear to me that he wears his pride for this University through his work. The respect the players and staff have for Deion showed every day. I look forward to watching him continue to develop and inspire our defensive linemen. He was a great addition to our staff in 2020 and I look forward to watching him thrive in this new role.”



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Chris, a Penn State University student, founded Basic Blues Nation in 2022. He remains a co-owner of the website today. Throughout a six-year writing career, Chris has been a beat writer, a staff writer, an Editor-In Chief, and more, serving as a member of the credentialed media for a number of Big Ten schools. He has covered everything from non-revenue sports to CFP National Championship matchups, as well as some professional and high school sports.

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