Penn State Football

Examining Penn State Football Top Defensive Line Coach Replacement Option

Penn State Football lost defensive line coach John Scott Jr. to the NFL when he took a position with the Detroit Lions on Monday. With a large opening on the defensive coaching staff opening just two weeks before spring practice, one internal name just makes too much sense to pass up.

Deion Barnes, a former Nittany Lions linebacker and graduate assistant and current analyst, should be promoted to the defensive line coaching position. Deion Barnes is a Nittany Lion through and through and has given a lot to the Penn State Football program both as a player and as a coach.

Out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Barnes played for Penn State from 2011 to 2014. In 2012, Barnes was selected as the Big Ten freshman of the year.

After a brief NFL and XFL career, Barnes returned to Penn State as a graduate assistant and assistant defensive line coach. In his three seasons in that role, Barnes helped Penn State immensely in recruiting defensive linemen and recruiting in Philadelphia, a place where Penn State had struggled to gain ground despite being “in state”. According to Terry Smith, via Audrey Snyder from the Athletic, Barnes had been “a great recruiter” that had done “tremendous for [Penn State] in Philadelphia.”


In late January, Penn State Football promoted Barnes from graduate assistant, where he had used up his maximum three years, to offensive/defensive analyst & analytics coordinator to keep him on staff. This move was called “significant” as “[p]layers, recruits, HS coaches have raved about Barnes” according to Audrey Snyder.

Promoting Barnes to defensive line coach would make a ton of sense at this point.

With only two weeks until spring practice, Barnes would provide a face that is familiar to both the players and coaches and a coach that is familiar with the way Penn State practices and operates.

Barnes is also seen as a rising star in the industry. Keeping Barnes on staff and locking him up long-term at his alma mater could pay dividends if his trajectory in the coaching world continues to climb rapidly as it has done over the past three seasons.

The risk is there with Barnes being a first time defensive line coach, however, James Franklin is already familiar with his work ethic and talent having been on Penn State’s staff for the past three seasons.

Promoting Barnes to defensive line coach would also continue his recruiting work in Philadelphia for the Nittany Lions.

Since Barnes arrived on staff in 2020, Penn State Football has put a greater focus on recruiting in Philadelphia, because of how much respect and weight Barnes has in the area.

Promoting Barnes to defensive line coach would continue to solidify the relationships Barnes has built for Penn State in Philadelphia and continue to make inroads in recruiting for Penn State in the area.

The players and coaches at Penn State have shown that Deion Barnes is a great member of the staff over the past three years. With the timing of Scott’s announcement, it just makes too much sense for Deion Barnes to be promoted over the next two weeks to the defensive line coaching position at Penn State. The familiarity with the staff, players, and program, along with the high potential that Barnes has as a coach, give Franklin the perfect candidate to promote before spring practice begins.

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About Author

Robert Casturo

Expertise: College Football, Penn State Football Education: Saint Vincent College, Penn State Law School Location: Washington, DC Experience: Robert Casturo has covered Penn State football for NittanyCentral since 2022. Casturo previously covered Penn State football through a social media presence (@PSU_FB_Thoughts on X) since 2019. Casturo earned his bachelor's degree from Saint Vincent College in 2015, where he was a punter for 1 season on the Saint Vincent College football team and worked in the athletic department for 2 years as a student manager. Casturo earned his JD from Penn State Law in 2018 where he was a senior editor of the Penn State Law Review.