After another four-star commitment, Deion Barnes might be Penn State’s not-so-secret weapon

Penn State defensive line coach and former edge rusher Deion Barnes has turned Happy Valley into a defensive end factory and in one week he's landed three four-star edge rushers, Cortez Harris, Max Granville, and Jayden Woods.
Ohio State v Penn State
Ohio State v Penn State / Justin K. Aller/GettyImages

Deion Barnes is in his fifth year with the Penn State football program, but the former Nittany Lion defensive end is entering just his second as the defensive line coach. Yet, he already seems to have a pretty solid grasp on the recruiting aspect of the job. On Wednesday night, two days after landing four-star edge rusher Max Granville out of Texas, Barnes and Penn State earned a commitment from Kansas four-star edge Jayden Woods. 

Woods, a 6-foot-3 240-pound multi-sport athlete is the 167th ranked player in the country by 247Sports and the second highest rated recruit in the 2025 Penn State class, jumping Granville. The Nittany Lions have added eight commitments in the month of June and their class now ranks sixth in the country and second in the Big Ten. 

Andy Kotelnicki’s relationships with local high schools like Mill Valley from his time as the offensive coordinator under Lance Leipold at Kansas played a significant role in Woods’s recruitment according to The Athetlic’s Audrey Snyder. But, Woods still adds to the significant hot streak that Barnes is on. 

Not only has Penn State added both Woods and Granville this week, but four-star edge Cortez Harris from Maryland committed just one day before Granville. That’s three four-star defensive linemen in four days, all from different parts of the country. 

The Nittany Lions don’t have a particular need at edge rusher with Abdul Carter, Dani Dennis-Sutton, and Zuriah Fisher all locked into key roles for 2024, but after losing Chop Robinson and Adisa Isaac to the NFL this offseason, it was time to cycle in a new crop of talent to what is fast becoming an edge rusher factory in Happy Valley. 

Through Barnes’s five years on the coaching staff, the former Big Ten Freshman of the Year from his playing days has mentored 16 All-Big Ten honorees. In his first year on the staff, Barnes helped coach Odafe Oweh and Shaka Toney both to the All-Big Ten first-team, the first Penn State pass-rushing duo to achieve those honors since Courtney Brown and Brad Scioli in 1998. 

Since 2021, when Oweh and Toney were both drafted, Penn State has produced five NFL draft picks, Arnold Ebeketie, Robinson, and Isaac. If Carter and Dennis-Sutton both decide to depart early, both will be 2025 draft picks with Carter potentially in the mix for the No. 1 overall pick. 

Through three different defensive coordinators, Brent Pry, Manny Diaz, and now Tom Allen, Penn State has been able to attract some of the best edge rushers in the country and develop them into NFL-caliber players. Barnes has been the constant on the coaching staff in Happy Valley and at this point, he’s become the not-so-secret weapon to the Nittany Lions’ defensive success.