Former Penn State defensive tackle PJ Mustipher wants Deion Barnes to be the school’s next defensive line coach.
PJ Mustipher is the first Penn State player to speak this week at the #NFLCombine. Asked him about Deion Barnes and Penn State’s vacancy at defensive line coach: “I want Coach Franklin to hire him. I think he should.” pic.twitter.com/8mpid7IMIw
— Johnny McGonigal (@jmcgonigal9) March 1, 2023
This past Monday, news broke that John Scott Jr. was leaving Penn State for the Detroit Lions.
Wednesday, Mustipher endorsed a current staff member to respect Scott.
Barnes, who played at Penn State from 2011-14, has been on James Franklin’s coaching staff since 2020. He spent three seasons as a graduate assistant. In January, barnes was promoted to offensive/defensive analytics coordinator this past January. Mustipher worked with Barnes for three of his five seasons playing at Penn State, and he liked the experience enough to openly endorse Barnes to move into Scott’s old role.
“I want Coach Franklin to hire him,” Mustipher told reporters at his NFL Combine press conference Wednesday morning, responding to a question asked by Penn State beat reporter Johnny McGonigal of PennLive.com. “I think he should because he’s putting a lot of work in our defensive line. Deion and Coach Scott, that tandem was phenomenal.”
Mustipher isn’t the first Penn Stater to praise Barnes during his Combine presser.
After four years at Temple, Arnold Ebiketie came to Penn State before the 2021 season and tore it up. He became one of the best defensive players in the Big Ten. Ebiketie finishing second in the conference in sacks (9.5) and tackles for loss (18), earning first-team All-Big Ten honors.
At last year’s NFL Combine Press Conference in Indianapolis, Ebiketie credited Scott, Barnes and Penn State’s coaching staff for his career year.
“Coach Scott, Coach Deion Barnes, those guys, they kind of helped me put together some of the pieces that I was missing into my game,” Ebiketie said. “And I think, once I got that, I kind of put everything together. That’s where the production came from.”
Mustipher went more in-depth about Barnes. He said Barnes helped him become a better player during the offseason.
“Just working on a lot of different stuff with my footwork, my hands, eyes, technique, all that,” Mustipher said.
Barnes isn’t always “Mr. Nice Guy” to Mustipher.
“He’s really hard on me,” Mustipher said. “We spend a lot of hours watching film. He’s spent a lot of time correcting me, whether he’s cussing me out or telling me how bad I played in a game or stuff like that. All that, man, has helped me get to where I’m at.”
As a player at Penn State, Barnes recorded 99 tackles (48 solo), 26.5 tackles for loss, 14 sacks, four pass breakups and five forced fumbles during his four seasons. Barnes was the Big Ten’s Freshman of the Year in 2012. He playing a key part in one of the most critical seasons in program history. After the Jerry Sandusky scandal led to Joe Paterno’s firing, Bill O’Brien’s hiring and NCAA sanctions, the “Iron Lions” surprised the college football world in 2012 by going 8-4.
O’Brien left Penn State after the 2013 season. Barnes stayed for the start of the Franklin era. Penn State’s initial four-year bowl ban, which would have expired after the 2015 season, got reduced to two years. Therefore, Barnes and his teammates got to play Boston College in the 2014 Pinstripe Bowl. Penn State won 31-30 in overtime. Barnes had three tackles in that game, including a tackle for loss.
Barnes went to the NFL after a breakout senior season in which he racked up 44 tackles (21 solo), 12.5 tackles for loss and six sacks.
He went un-drafted in 2015 and spent time with the New York Jets and Kansas Chiefs— also playing with the AAF’s San Antonio Commanders— before going into coaching.