Penn State’s Supa Six is Down to One

Decisions of Barnes, Smith to enter NFL Draft early leave a lone member of the group of buddies who signed with the Lions in 2011 — and stuck with the program through the worst of times.

The Supa Six stuck with Penn State through the most difficult time in the program's history. But now that things appear to be looking up for the Nittany Lions, only one player remains from the six buddies and impact athletes who were part of the team's 2011 recruiting class.

Monday, offensive tackle Donovan Smith announced he was giving up his final year of eligibility to enter the NFL Draft. Tuesday, defensive end Deion Barnes announced he was doing the same.

Both players earned their degrees earlier this month.

The decisions came as something of a surprise considering neither player is projected as an early-round draft pick, and both likely could have improved their stock by sticking around for a fifth year.

It will be surprising if either player goes as high as the first member of the Supa Six to leave Penn State. Record-setting receiver Allen Robinson declared for the draft following the 2013 season, but actually slipped to the bottom of the second round (he was taken by Jacksonville with the 61st overall pick).

Two other Sixers never took a redshirt and used up their eligibility this year. Defensive back Adrian Amos was a three-year starter and projects as a mid-round pick in the draft.

Running back Bill Belton was part of the Lions' running back rotation the last three years after playing receiver as a rookie. He is a long shot to be drafted, but has said he feels he has a chance to make it in the NFL if he is used as more of a pass catcher than a ball carrier.

The only Sixer expected to return for his final season (as of now) is tight end Kyle Carter, who was an All-Big Ten pick as a redshirt freshman in 2012 but saw his numbers fall off significantly the last two years. Carter was huge in PSU's Pinstripe Bowl win over Boston College, though, catching the game-tying TD in overtime.

Smith was a three-year starter but never developed into the sort of dominating force many expected. He never even won honorable-mention All-Big Ten notice. However, he has great athleticism for his size (6-foot-5, 348 pounds) and will likely test extremely well if given a chance to attend the NFL Combine.


Donovan Smith

Barnes was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2012 but had a disappointing redshirt sophomore season in 2013. He bounced back this year to tally 12.5 tackles for loss and six sacks, winning honorable-mention All-Big Ten accolades. He finishes his career with 14 sacks, which is not among the top 15 in school history.

At 6-4, 249 pounds, the speed-rushing Barnes must add size to play D-end in the NFL. It is unclear whether he has the skills to play linebacker at the next level, since he was rarely asked to drop into coverage while at Penn State.

Four members of the Supa Six -- Amos, Barnes, Carter and Smith -- have already earned their degrees.


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