It's a mind-set that enabled the 6-foot-4, 249-pound Barnes to have "a great camp," defensive coordinator Bob Shoop said. And Shoop made sure he kept Barnes motivated.
"I like that he has that chip on his shoulder, and I kind of reminded him of that," Shoop said this week, before the Nittany Lions headed to Ireland for the season opener Saturday against Central Florida in Dublin.
"I stick it to him every once in a while, just to keep him going," Shoop said. "But he's a self-motivated person. He's very smart. When we break down the defense at the end of practice, sometimes every once in a while he'll go: 'Coach, can I say something?' Just little things like that catch my attention."
As a freshman, Barnes showed his quickness and strength working his way past offensive linemen, as he recorded six sacks and 10 tackles for loss. Last season, though, his numbers fell to two sacks and four tackles for loss, and he was overshadowed in the sack department by fellow ends C.J. Olaniyan and Anthony Zettel.
Shoop, after his arrival in Happy Valley as part of new head coach James Franklin's staff, saw on film that opposing offenses had developed ways to deal with Barnes, either with double teams or having a tight end or back chip him to get him off balance.
"I thought he was a really productive player," Shoop said. "He made some big plays in the Michigan game at critical times. I can go right down the list where he made some plays."
Barnes said his main goal at the start of training camp was to "work on becoming a better teammate and communicating." He seemed reluctant to speak of personal goals.
"Usually, you never know what you can do," he said. "I honestly have a bar that I want to get to, but . . . if it happens, it happens. If it doesn't, it doesn't."
Shoop has liked Barnes' attitude, which he said is similar to that of Olaniyan. The pair are "as good a 1-2 punch as there are in the league," he said.
"I put Deion in that same category as C.J. in a lot of ways," Shoop said. "He's a quiet leader, doesn't say much, lets his actions speak for him."
Lions in Ireland. The Nittany Lions party of more than 300 landed in Dublin around 11:30 a.m. Wednesday local time, according to reports. Exhausted after an all-night flight from Harrisburg, the team conducted a walk-through at University College Dublin in a drizzle and 60-degree temperatures.
"I thought we got a lot of work done," Franklin told reporters. "I thanked the players for their focus and their attention to detail. I thought we got a lot out of today."
The Nittany Lions were expected to have a full practice Thursday.