Sources: Harlon Barnett named as new Florida State defensive coordinator


After spending 11 seasons at his alma mater, Harlon Barnett will become Willie Taggart’s defensive coordinator at Florida State, according to a report Friday morning by Sports Illustrated’s Bruce Feldman.

Spending just one year at Oregon, Taggart was hired by FSU last month and since then has been actively looking to fill his coaching roles, bringing on Donte’ Pimpleton and Raymond Woodie, two coaches previously on his staff at Oregon.

Barnett joins former Michigan offensive tackles coach Greg Frey as the second coach from the state of Michigan to head for Tallahassee this year and join Taggart’s staff.

After Mark Dantonio signed a modified contract with Michigan State in 2016, Barnett’s annual salary was pinned at $437,434. Charles Kelly made $858,000 last year as defensive coordinator, according to the USA TODAY salary database. The move makes sense for Barnett, who may have his sights set on a future head coaching gig, and FSU gives him certainly a higher profile and significant raise.

Barnett coached the defensive backs and just finished his third season sharing the co-defensive coordinator title with linebackers coach Mike Tressel. Barnett helped guide MSU to boasting the No. 7 defense in the nation in 2017, allowing just 297.6 yards per game. Barnett was also one of the 56 nominees this season for the Broyles Award, which is given to the nation’s top assistant.

With Barnett departing, expect Tressel to take possession of the play-calling duties for the defense as the sole defensive coordinator. Since the NCAA now allows 10 assistants rather than nine, MSU will now need to fill two open coaching spots.

A couple names to look out for are Demetrice Martin, who wasn’t kept on by Chip Kelly at UCLA as defensive backs coach, and Pittsburgh secondary coach Renaldo Hill. Both are former Spartan cornerbacks when Dantonio was the defensive backs coach from 1995-2000. Archie Collins, current defensive backs coach at CMU and MSU alum, is also another name to keep tabs on.

Whoever MSU chooses to replace Barnett and fill the 10th assistant spot, it will be critical for recruiting and maintaining the culture that Barnett left in his time there. Barnett was referred to as a glue guy within the program and garnered massive respect from players.

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