Barnett Confident In His Players

Michigan State defensive back coach Harlon Barnett spoke with SpartanDigest.com about this year's group of defensive backs, along with his journey back to Michigan State.

There is no mistaking the passion Michigan State defensive back coach Harlon Barnett has for his alma matar. After an impressive college career in East Lansing, Barnett made the journey to the NFL for several seasons. After finishing with the Minnesota Vikings, the former All-American got the itch to join the coaching profession.

How has it been since coming back to Michigan State?

"It's been great. I never anticipated this happening, I never thought I would be coaching college football. However, it has been great to be back and coach my alma mater, it is my favorite place to come back to. You just cannot imagine the feeling you have coaching at your alma mater. Therefore, it has been great and I am hoping we can make this a special, special season this year."

As a former Spartans defensive back, Barnett knows how important of a role his defensive backs will play this season. How do they look so far?

"The guys are looking good. It is early, but they look good, quick, fast, and stronger, so they look good."

One player looking to reshow his abilities is redshirt sophomore Johnny Adams. The Akron (Ohio) native missed last season after an injury and personal loss in his family. How important does, Coach Barnett feels it is to have Johnny back?

"It is very important that we get Johnny back. We were very fortunate to be in a position to do what we did with Johnny last season. It was not our intentions, but we felt it was something we could do with all the experience we had coming back. It is great to have him back and I feel it was also good for him to be able to sit back and watch, learning even more about what he needs to do. I feel he is now fired up and very motivated to prove to people he's a real good player."

Last season Barnett watched as his defensive backs came up short in getting the job done. Looking back, does he feel those who return learned from last season's failures?

"Some of the guys last year just did not get the job done. Last year was a year where we just could not make a play on the ball down the field. We were in position to make players a lot of those times, but just did not make plays. It was just the kind of season were we know was a learning experience for the guys we have coming back. I feel this has really motivated all of them and I see them using this as fuel. I feel we will see a whole different defensive backfield this season."

With all the talk of the younger Spartans getting on the field, how hard will it be for any of the defensive backs to crack the lineup?

"The only thing they lack is the experience of knowing the defense. The first four guys we have in there all have the experience factor over everybody else, they can also play the game. Therefore, it will be tough for anyone to crack the lineup if those guys play well. But I expect them to contribute, as I like to say, you are only as good as your backups."

While the Spartans may have struggled some last season, Coach Barnett is excited about what he has seen so far.

"I feel you will see a different defense this year. We are now going into our fourth year and the guys who have been here know what we expect of them and they fully understand the strengths and weaknesses of the defense we run."

With camp still in the early stages, Coach Barnett knows there might be a few surprises along the way. SpartanDigest.com will continue to follow the status of key position battles in the coming weeks leading up to the start of the 2010 season.


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