RELEASE: O'Brien Sweeps Big Ten Coach of the Year Honors; Barnes Freshman of the Year
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach Bill O'Brien was honored by the Big Ten Conference's coaches and media on Tuesday for his tremendous effort during the 2012 season as the Coach of the Year. Additionally, redshirt freshman defensive end Deion Barnes earned Big Ten Freshman of the Year accolades.
The honors for O'Brien and Barnes come one day after 14 Nittany Lions were honored for All-Big Ten recognition, including six student-athletes on the conference's first team.
Bill O'Brien - Hayes-Schembechler; Dave McClain Coach of the Year
The leadership Coach O'Brien exuded on the day he was hired resonated with every member of the football program, athletic department and fan base. The first-year leader met every challenge he faced during his remarkable first seven months on the job with nothing but confidence. Preparing for a season under the circumstances O'Brien was forced to deal with was truly unprecedented in college football history. But none of that mattered. He earned the trust of a special senior class on the day he first met the group. In return, O'Brien entrusted the group of 31 seniors, which led to a collective bond in one of the tightest locker rooms any program could have.
Sure, O'Brien would love to have a couple plays back in a few games, but winning eight games in 2012 was a tremendous accomplishment for the first-year head coach, the assistants and the players on the roster. It's hard to speculate where the football program would be today without the leadership of O'Brien and the 2012 senior class.
A tireless work, O'Brien was the first one in the Lasch Building and the last one to leave all season long. His ultra-competitive attitude became engrained in the mind of everyone on the team. Practices were competitive every single day because the players on the roster wanted to be the best in everything. That mindset permeated from O'Brien. Nobody wants to win more on Saturdays than O'Brien, and his team had the same attitude every time it stepped onto the field.
As he has said numerous times, the 2012 squad was not an undefeated team but it was a special group. While the senior class played an instrumental role in keeping the team together during its toughest time, O'Brien is the reason this group was so special. Winning eight games is an unbelievable accomplishment under the circumstances O'Brien and the Nittany Lions did in 2012, but how they approached every practice and game is why there was only one choice for Big Ten Coach of the Year.
DE Deion Barnes - Big Ten Freshman of the Year
Redshirt freshman Deion Barnes has all the tools to become an elite defensive end for the Nittany Lions. In 2012, Barnes finished tied for fifth in the Big Ten in sacks with 6.0. The Philadelphia product made 26 tackles, including 10.0 hits for loss. He also forced three fumbles. Possessing great speed and quickness off the edge, Barnes posed a big challenge for opposing tackles every week. Learning from one of the best position coaches in America, Barnes said that the biggest thing defensive line coach Larry Johnson taught him was how to play fast. The end result was a standout rookie campaign for one of the most likeable personalities in the Penn State locker room.
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