Michigan State co-defensive coordinator ​Harlon Barnett will become the new defensive coordinator at Florida State University.

By Bruce Feldman
January 05, 2018

Michigan State co-defensive coordinator ​Harlon Barnett will become the new defensive coordinator at Florida State University, a source told SI.

The 51-year-old Barnett, who spent a decade in the NFL as a defensive back, is leaving his alma mater to join Willie Taggart’s staff. Barnett had been with Mark Dantonio since 2004, first at Cincinnati and then at MSU since 2007. Over that time Barnett has emerged as one of the top secondary coaches in football and turned numerous lower-rated recruits into NFL players, including two first-rounders in Darqueze Dennard and Trae Waynes. Barnett helped the MSU defense, which started six sophomores and one true freshman, emerge as one of the nation’s best this season, ranking No. 7 in the nation in total defense. 

Barnett’s role handling the Spartans defense increased after defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi left to become the head coach at Pitt. In his first season coordinating the defense in 2015, along with Mike Tressel, the Spartan defense was one of the main reasons why MSU won its second Big Ten Championship in three years and reached the College Football Playoff. Michigan State finished ranked among the NCAA FBS leaders in forced turnovers (ninth with 28), rushing defense (11th at 116.0 ypg), sacks (23rd at 2.64 pg), scoring defense (25th at 21.7 ppg) and total defense (26th at 349.9 ypg). MSU held six opponents under 100 yards rushing and ranked third in the Big Ten and 11th nationally in stopping the run (116.0 ypg)

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