Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Football: Northwestern expected to hire Harlon Barnett as defensive backs coach

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Daily file photo by Angeli Mittal
Northwestern head coach David Braun has added another piece to his defensive staff, hiring defensive backs coach Harlon Barnett from Michigan State.

After parting ways with former associate head coach in charge of defensive backs Matt MacPherson Northwestern head coach David Braun is expected to hire Harlon Barnett as the program’s next defensive backs coach, 247Sports’ Matt Zenitz reported Tuesday.

Barnett spent 15 seasons on Michigan State’s defensive staff, serving as the Spartans’ interim head coach following Mel Tucker’s firing last September. Michigan State went 2-8 during his interim tenure, finishing sixth in the Big Ten East.

Although new Spartan head coach Jonathan Smith initially retained Barnett on his staff, Barnett said he wouldn’t return to East Lansing in December. He had held a bevy of coaching roles for the green and white, including cornerbacks coach, defensive backs coach and a three-season stint as co-defensive coordinator.

“After 20 football seasons at Michigan State, five as a player, 15 as a coach, my time is up,” Barnett said. “It’s time for me to move on. I’m looking for opportunities at other programs, be it college or the NFL. I’m excited about it. It’s time.”

A former fourth-round pick out of Michigan State, Barnett spent seven seasons as an NFL safety, playing for the Browns, Patriots and Vikings. Following his final NFL season in 1996, Barnett tried his hand at sideline reporting during the Spartans’ 1997 season.

He started his coaching career at the high school level in 1998, before he was a graduate assistant at LSU in 2003. Barnett also held coaching gigs at Cincinnati and Florida State.

With more than two decades of coaching experience, Barnett will now oversee a Wildcat defensive back unit that marked one of NU’s top position groups in the 2023 season.

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Twitter: @jakeepste1n

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