Penn State redshirt freshman defensive end Deion Barnes was named the Thompson-Randle El Freshman of the Year by the Big Ten on Tuesday night.
Starting the season behind Pete Massaro at defensive end, Barnes emerged to be one of the top forces along the NIttany Lions' defensive line during the season, racking up 26 tackles, a team-high 10 tackles for a loss, and a team high six sacks for 30 yards in losses.
"I'm very honored," Barnes said on the BTN telecast. "I feel good right now to be recognized for the freshman of the year. It feels great right now."
During Barnes' interview with the BTN crew, he talked about some of his influences on the team, and in particular, picked out senior defensive end Sean Stanley as his primary mentor this past season.
"I always looked up to Sean Stanley," Barnes said. "He's one of the smartest and best guys to talk to on the team. He understood what I've been going through, the game experience and being with Coach J and everything."
Of course, for as impressive as Barnes was in his debut season with the Nittany Lions, the expectations for 2013 will be equally high, if not higher, even with the departure of a handful of key seniors like Michael Mauti, Gerald Hodges, Jordan Hill, and Stephon Morris.
Still, according to Barnes, he learned the type of work ethic necessary to compete at this level and is looking to carry it forward into the 2013 season, he said.
"I learned effort. They gave 100 percent every day at practice, in the film room, every day," he said. "The effort was tremendous. That's something you've gotta follow and duplicate next year."