The group putting together We Are! 2013 has been harmoniously working together to prepare a preview magazine that will be the best collection of Nittany Lions coverage you will find in a single publication. However, now matter how much we attempt to narrow down the list, we have yet to come up with a consensus on which Nittany Lion should be featured on the cover.
Part of the problem is that there are many deserving candidates coming back to build on the incredible 2012 season. However, one individual stands head-and-shoulders above the rest: rising sophomore Deion Barnes.
I read about Barnes once the four-star recruit committed to becoming a Nittany Lion. I had high hopes that he could become the next great edge rusher under the tutelage of Larry Johnson Sr. The expectations shot through the roof once I caught a glimpse of Barnes up close at last year's Blue-White Game. He looked like he was designed in a lab to maximize the pain felt by opposing quarterbacks, in the shortest amount of time possible.
The rest is history. Barnes went on to have an outstanding redshirt freshman year, capping it off by being the unanimous choice for Big Ten Defensive Freshman of the Year. Reports from spring practice suggest that Barnes is exceedingly stronger, faster and mentally more prepared to reach a whole new level in the upcoming season. His freshman season was eerily reminiscent of Courtney Brown's true sophomore year after being converted from the offensive line. If he can continue to imitate- or even exceed- the Penn State legend, the possibilities for Barnes are limitless.
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