Michigan State Football: Ranking Mel Tucker’s 3 best staff hires

Mel Tucker, Michigan State football (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
Mel Tucker, Michigan State football (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /
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Michigan State football
Shakur Brown and Xavier Henderson, Michigan State football (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images) /

3. Harlon Barnett, Defensive Backs

The aforementioned familiar face, Harlon Barnett was an easy decision for Mel Tucker to bring back. He accepted the defensive coordinator position at Florida State after successfully revitalizing the Spartan defense in 2017, and his impact on the secondary was sorely felt. His short tenure in Tallahassee was unsuccessful, and it was apparent that he missed East Lansing.

East Lansing also really missed Barnett. The Spartans dropped from ninth in the nation in passing defense in 2018 to 36th in 2019 in the two years that he wasn’t running things on the defensive side of the ball.

Hired back as the defensive backs coach, Barnett will do wonders for a secondary that struggled last season. Having experience at the safety positions in junior Xavier Henderson and senior Tre Person is a huge bonus. Barnett will have his work cut out for him priming the uber-talented but seldom-used Kalon Gervin, who begins his first season as a starting corner. Shakur Brown starts on the other side with Julian Barnett playing both sides of the ball.

There is some talent in the defensive backs room, and Barnett is the perfect coach to get the most out of them.