Penn State defensive end Deion Barnes, a former Northeast High School star who bounced back this season to earn honorable mention All-Big Ten honors after a disappointing 2013, announced Tuesday night he will enter the NFL draft.
The 6-foot-4, 249-pound Barnes, who started all 13 games this season for the Nittany Lions and a total of 30 in his career, received his degree in recreation, parks and tourism management earlier this month after 3 ½ years and will give up his final season of eligibility.
"I talked with my family and we believe it's best for me to move forward and forgo my fifth year," Barnes said in a news release sent out Tuesday night by Penn State athletic communications. "I want to thank the fans and I want to thank Penn State for the opportunity you've given me. This has been the best four years of my life."
Barnes, who turns 22 next month, enjoyed an outstanding freshman season when he made 10 tackles for loss, including six sacks, and 26 total tackles and was named Big Ten freshman of the year. His numbers dipped to four tackles for loss and two sacks the following season when opponents developed a variety of blocking schemes to slow him down.
But Barnes came back this season with 12.5 tackles for loss and 6.0 sacks, both second on the team, and 44 overall tackles.
"Our staff wants to thank Deion for all he's done here at Penn State and we wish him all the best in the NFL," Penn State coach James Franklin said in the release. "Deion has been a great contributor for us on the field and earned his degree. We're excited to watch him take the next step."
Barnes is the second Nittany Lion in as many days to come out for the draft before his last year of eligibility. Offensive tackle Donovan Smith announced the same intentions on Monday.
Barnes' career totals were 98 tackles, 14 sacks and 26.5 tackles for loss.
The departure of Barnes means that the Lions have lost both starting defensive ends from the 2014 season. Fifth-year senior C.J. Olaniyan has graduated.