Nittany Lions get JUCO defensive tackle

Penn State’s big football recruiting weekend paid off with immediate dividends when the Nittany Lions received a verbal commitment from Northwest Mississippi Community College 6-foot-3, 285-pound defensive tackle Tarow Barney.

Barney was one of five recruits making official visits and nearly 100 in attendance total for Saturday’s 23-20 overtime loss to Nebraska. He picked Penn State over Iowa State and also had offers from Arizona State, Kansas State, Illinois and Colorado along with several smaller Division I programs. Alabama showed interest, as well, but never offered a scholarship.

A player who is expected to enroll in January and have two years of eligibility, Barney is rated as the No. 3 junior college defensive tackle prospect in the country and a four-star recruit by 247Sports. He’s originally from Bainbridge, Ga.

Barney had 9 1/2 tackles for loss this year at Northwest Mississippi and 36 tackles total. He also registered 3 1/2 sacks and five quarterback hurries.

The Nittany Lions were looking for immediate help on the interior of the defensive line for next season. All-Big Ten tackle DaQuan Jones is finishing out his eligibility, and fellow starter Kyle Baublitz has decided not to return in 2014. That leaves the Lions with redshirt freshmen Brian Gaia, Derek Dowrey and Austin Johnson along with true freshman Parker Cothren and rising senior walk-on Tyrone Smith on the current roster.

They’ll be joined by New Jersey incoming freshman Antoine White. Penn State also is hoping to land New York’s Thomas Holley, one of the most highly rated prep defensive tackles in the country – the Lions seem to be in good position, but he’s also weighing offers from Notre Dame and Florida.

Penn State is in the mix for Virginia four-star defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi, too.

Barney’s commitment gives Penn State 16 players in this recruiting class. The Lions are expected to sign as many as 24.

– Philip Cmor