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O'Brien Sweeps Big Ten Coach of the Year Awards; Barnes Selected Big Ten Freshman of the Year

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Bill O'Brien

Nov. 27, 2012

VIDEO: Highlights and Interviews with Coach O'Brien & Deion Barnes

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State coach Bill O'Brien has been selected 2012 Big Ten Coach of the Year by the coaches and media and defensive end Deion Barnes (Philadelphia) has been named the conference's Thompson-Randel El Freshman of the Year.

O'Brien and Barnes join the seven Nittany Lions who were named All-Big Ten on Monday, six of whom were first-team honorees.

O'Brien is the recipient of the Dave McClain Coach of the Year (media vote), which has been selected since 1972 and is named for the former Wisconsin head coach. O'Brien also is the recipient of the Hayes-Schembechler Coach of the Year, which was established in 2011 and is voted on the by the head coaches. The award is named for former Ohio State coach Woody Hayes and former Michigan coach Bo Schembechler.

Named Penn State's 15th head football coach on January 6, 2012, O'Brien is the seventh first-year head coach to earn the Dave McClain Coach of the Year in the 41 years it has been awarded. Former Nittany Lion coach Joe Paterno earned the Big Ten honor in 1994, 2005 and 2008.

"This is a fantastic honor; it's very humbling," O'Brien stated. "Any time you are named coach of the year, it has a lot to do with two groups of people - it's your coaching staff and obviously your players. We have a great coaching staff that did a nice job of keeping everything together and teaching our players. And our players did a great job of going out there every week and playing as hard as they could. It's an honor for our program."

On the Watch List for the Bear Bryant National Coach of the Year, O'Brien led the Nittany Lions to victories in eight of their final 10 games, earning an 8-4 overall record and a 6-2 mark in the Big Ten, with the only losses coming to division winners Ohio State and Nebraska. O'Brien's eight wins are the most by a first-year Penn State coach in the 126 years of the program.



Penn State reeled off five consecutive victories after an 0-2 start, as O'Brien tied George Hoskins (1892) and Dick Harlow (1915) for the most consecutive wins by a first-year Nittany Lion coach. Penn State also won its initial three Big Ten road games, making O'Brien just the fifth Big ten coach since 1950 to win his first three conference away contests.

O'Brien engineered a dynamic, fast-paced offense that featured the Big Ten's passing leader (Matt McGloin), top receiver (Allen Robinson) and a running back (Zach Zwinak) who gained 100 yards six times in eight Big Ten games. Penn State led the Big Ten in total offense (437.0 ypg) in conference games and was second in scoring offense (32.6 ppg) and second in pass offense (283.1 ypg) against Big Ten foes this season. Penn State gained more than 500 yards of total offense three times in conference play, topped by 546 yards vs. Indiana, its highest total against a Big Ten foe since gaining 557 yards against Michigan State in 2008.

O'Brien came to Penn State after five years on the New England Patriots' coaching staff, serving as the quarterbacks coach from 2009-11 and as offensive coordinator last year in helping the Patriots to the AFC Championship and a berth Super Bowl XLVI. O'Brien began his coaching career at his alma mater, Brown University, in 1993-94. He then coached at Georgia Tech (1995-2002), Maryland (2003-04) and Duke (2005-06) before joining Bill Belichick's New England staff.

"From the time I first met Bill in February, I thought he was the perfect fit for Penn State Football," said Gerry DiNardo, Big Ten Network analyst. "He had an immediate and great connection with the team and quickly became their leader following a legendary leader in Joe Paterno. When you watch him call plays, he is one of the best play callers in college football. He is a passionate football man who has connected with the players and the community."

Deion Barnes

A redshirt freshman, Barnes joins tailback Curtis Enis (1995) as Nittany Lions to win the Thompson-Randel El Freshman of the Year, which is named for Darrell Thompson (Minnesota) and Antwaan Randel El (Indiana). The Big Ten Freshman of the Year was first awarded in 1986.

"It's a great honor to be the Freshman of the Year," said Barnes. "It feels good, but I am looking forward to next season. I need to play better than I did this year."

Barnes led Penn State with six sacks (minus-30), tied for No. 5 in the Big Ten, and with 10.0 tackles for loss, good for No. 13 in the conference. The former Northeast High School standout was tied for fourth in the Big Ten with three forced fumbles. Playing in every game, Barnes made 26 tackles (14 solo) and had one pass break-up. Barnes was named Big Ten Co-Freshman of the Week after recording five tackles and a sack in Penn State's 34-7 win over Navy. He made a season-high six tackles (four solo) and 3.0 TFL for minus-13 yards at Nebraska on Nov. 10.

On Monday, Penn State senior Michael Mauti (Mandeville, La.) was selected the Big Ten Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year and sophomore Allen Robinson (Southfield, Mich.) was named the Richter-Howard Receiver of the Year. Mauti, Robinson and senior defensive tackle Jordan Hill (Steelton) were selected first-team All-Big Ten by the coaches and media. Senior center Matt Stankiewitch (Orwigsburg) and junior guard John Urschel (Williamsville, N.Y.) were selected to the coaches' first-team and media second-team and redshirt freshman tight end Kyle Carter (Bear, Del.) was named to the media first-team.

Senior linebacker Gerald Hodges (Paulsboro, N.J.) earned second-team All-Big Ten honors from the coaches and media, earning all-conference accolades for the second consecutive year.

Seven Nittany Lions earned honorable-mention All-Big Ten recognition: sophomore cornerback Adrian Amos (Baltimore), freshman defensive end Deion Barnes (Philadelphia), senior tackle Mike Farrell (Pittsburgh), senior quarterback Matt McGloin (Scranton), senior cornerback Stephon Morris (Washington, D.C.), senior defensive end Sean Stanley (Rockville, Md.) and sophomore running back Zach Zwinak (Frederick, Md.)


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