Player Profile: Deion Barnes
It didn’t take Deion Barnes long to make himself a fixture on Penn State’s defense. After just three career games, Barnes has shown his ability to be a dangerous pass rusher, one opposing offensive lines need to account for on every play.
Barnes boasts exceptional speed for someone who stands at 6-foot-4 and weighs 246 pounds. His combination of size and quickness add to his ability to get to the quarterback.
Defensive line coach Larry Johnson, Sr. has developed his share of standout defensive linemen, from Tamba Hali to Aaron Maybin and, most recently, Devon Still. Deion Barnes may be the next player to shine up front for the Nittany Lions.
Barnes, who chose to play at Penn State over schools like Michigan and Georgia, registered his first career sack and forced fumble in the fourth quarter of Penn State’s 17-16 loss at Virginia. He would add another sack later in the game.
The redshirt freshman followed up his breakout game at Virginia with another outstanding effort against Navy, helping Penn State to its first win under head coach Bill O’Brien. Barnes recorded five tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble in the 34-7 win over the Midshipmen. His performance earned him Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors.
After the game, O’Brien credited the young defensive end for his contributions to the win.
“I just think Deion Barnes is a good football player,” O’Brien said. “You know he has a bright future and I just think he is a great kid and I am happy for him.”
Senior defensive end Sean Stanley also had high praise for his redshirt freshman teammate following the game.
“He’s an excellent pass rusher, and for a young guy, he really knows what his move is,” Stanley said. “He has his identity, and I think that really helps him out.”
Barnes is tied for second in the Big Ten in sacks with three on the young season. He is also responsible for two of the eight turnovers Penn State has forced the last two weeks, which the team put a greater emphasis on.
“After the Ohio game, we definitely focused more on stripping the ball and forcing turnovers,” Barnes said at a press conference earlier this week.
Barnes redshirted last season, but still feels he developed as a player while sitting out.
“I would say I’m recognizing what the tackles are doing more coming from the year off, Barnes said. “That definitely helps me to see what I can do against certain tackles.”
In 2010, Barnes was named Philadelphia Public School Player of the Year while playing at Northeast High School in Philadelphia. This Saturday, the Philadelphia native will take on his hometown Temple Owls.
Temple is averaging 176.5 rushing yards per game through two games and should provide a strong test for Barnes and his teammates. Penn State has had close calls with Temple in each of the last two seasons and Barnes’ ability to make impact plays on defense may be the difference in the game.
Growing up in the Philadelphia area has Barnes very much anticipating Saturday’s matchup with the Owls.
“Going against Temple is exciting for me, coming from Philadelphia and watching them a few times,” Barnes said. “It’s something I’m looking forward to doing.”
Dan Cronin is a junior majoring in Broadcast Journalism. To contact him email email@example.com.