Purdue's Derrick Barnes is Back at Linebacker
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Derrick Barnes is back in the open field. Last year, Barnes never got the start through 12 games at defensive end. After a 10-tackle performance against Indiana in the final game of the 2019 season, Barnes has been working out with the linebackers this spring.
“It feels good,” an elated Barnes said earlier this week.
Barnes started his Purdue career as a linebacker, and finished third on the team in tackles in 2018 with 92 total. He was moved to defensive end after that standout sophomore season. Barnes says he did what he could to contribute in 2019, even though he didn’t feel as “at home” on the line.
“I’ve always been a team player. Corner, safety, no matter where my team wants me to play, I'll play.” Barnes said after Wednesday’s practice.
He’ll need to work on his speed and size if he wants to fit into the role after spending a year in the trenches. The senior said he’s already been changing his workouts.
“I actually lost [weight],” he said after practice. “Coach gave me the option to, and I was like ‘I need to be a lower weight.’”
He did not specify how much weight he lost.
Barnes flourished as a linebacker his sophomore year. He tallied 4 or more solo tackles on eight separate occasions, seven of which were conference games. His teammates know that linebacker is the right fit for him.
“My freshman year when he was there, I was looking to him as one of the leaders. I still look at him as a leader,” junior linebacker Jaylan Alexander said of Barnes. “It’s great to have him back.”
The pair combined for 75 solo tackles in 2018, and Barnes accounts for more than 80 percent of those. You could see Barnes’ beaming smile under his facemask Wednesday when the two were given the chance to play together again.