When Penn State held its Junior Day back in late February, they expected to lay the groundwork for at least a few potential commitments, even if said commitments didn't become official until later on. Instead, they were able to secure verbal commitments on the spot from not one, not two, but three defensive ends in 2018's Micah Parsons, and 2017's Damion Barber and Yetur Matos.
All three are vitally important commitments, as bringing pressure off the edge is the easiest way to build a dominant defense in today's college football landscape. The aforementioned Barber, should be a huge asset in that area.
Barber, a three-star player according to the 247Composite ratings, brings some serious pass-rushing potential to the Nittany Lions. The No. 9 player in Pennsylvania has all the tools to become a monster off the edge for Penn State, and could have a very long, rewarding career in Happy Valley.
Along with being a stud on the football field, he's extremely well-ground off of it. When asked about what led him to commit to the Nittany Lions, and what he was most looking forward to, the first things he cited were the relationships built with the coaching staff and the players on campus, and the education that awaits him.
Though other schools are still coming after him, trying to flip him from Penn State, he knows what he wants.
I know where my heart is committed to. I still talk to [other schools], but Coach Spence and Coach Pry know that I'm not leaving.
Being from the Harrisburg area, Barber is right in the middle of the recruiting grounds that Penn State absolutely has to dominate in order to continue standing as the premier program in the state. There is plenty of talent in the area in the 2017 class, but there is potentially even more in the 2018 class. One of said players, the five-star Parsons, is already a member of the 2018 class. Another big-time target to join Parsons, however, is Barber's teammate, four-star wide receiver Shaquon Anderson-Butts.
My bro, Shaquan Butts, my teammate. I recruit him every day. Possibly he'll end up here. He wants to see about when I get up there, so when I get back I'll talk to him about it.
Since committing, Barber has spent a lot of time keeping touch with both his future teammates and his future coaches. He says that the 2017 class talks "most every day" and that he is particularly certain to talk to fellow defensive end commit Yetur Matos every day.
The coaching staff has confirmed with him that he will stick at defensive end at Penn State, and that they want him to continue to work on his three-point stance, and well as how to use his hips to explode off the line. Overall, it sounds like they're grooming him to be a pure, pass-rushing nightmare for opposing quarterbacks.
Barber is also optimistic about the future of Penn State. While he acknowledged that momentum around the program is pretty much non-existent right now as most people sit in "wait-and-see mode" for the new offense, he's excited about what's coming.
I think Penn State got something coming this year, and they'll have a better year than last year.
Damion's next chance to check out (and recruit for) Penn State will come in mid-July when he's in town for the famous Lasch Bash. Until then, chances are you'll find him in his backyard, running himself through the drills the coaches have suggested to him over and over until he's ready to don the blue and white.