Jersey Fullback Remains on Rutgers' Radar

Rutgers' move to a pro-style offense means the need for a fullback increases. And while there are a few players in the program capable of handling the position, the Scarlet Knights are also recruiting for it. One such player is Paul VI High (Haddonfield, N.J.) standout Matt Barnes, who visited Rutgers in the spring and camped there last month.

One of the issues Matt Barnett of Paul VI High (Haddonfield, N.J.) is facing on the recruiting circuit is the lack of schools willing to offer a fullback.

That could work to Rutgers' benefit, where a scholarship crunch will likely keep the Scarlet Knights from offering a fullback, but not from taking one as a walk-on.

The 6-foot-1, 233-pound Barnett camped at Rutgers last month, and although a scholarship wasn't offered, he could tell Scarlet Knights running backs coach Chris Hewitt liked what they saw.

"I could tell by the way they're on me, and how many reps he wants me to get, and they way he was always calling me out," Barnett said. "I talked to (assistant) coach (Phil) Galiano, and he said come (to camp) and make them believe they can't face me as an opponent, and that they need me on the team."

Barnett said he believed he did that, and also enjoyed his work with Hewitt.

"I loved working with coach Hewitt and with the running backs," he said. "They gave me good competition with the 1-on-1s, and (he was) just flying around and having fun. I think (Hewitt is) a good, hard-nosed type of guy, who can also have fun coaching you. He'll straight-up tell you if you're doing terrible, or doing good.

"I did a good job catching the ball. I caught every ball, didn't drop one."

Rutgers isn't the only school recruiting Barnett, who holds an offer from Monmouth and camped at Connecticut, Boston College and Navy.

"Navy said they don't believe in offering fullbacks until midway through their senior season, so they'll tell me then," he said. "The UConn coach said I was the best fullback he worked with and Boston College told me I'm a scholarship player for them, but it just comes down to whether their head coach takes a fullback this year."

So far, none of the schools came through with an offer.

However, if Navy offered, would Barnett take that route?

"I'd definitely go to Navy," he said. "First of all, because of the football program, and the way they run an offense, and then chances you'll get. The opportunities. …To get a degree from the Naval Academy, you can do anything you want."

One thing that could help Barnett's recruitment during the season is an anticipated increased role at Paul VI.

Primarily a fullback last season, he will split time playing fullback and running back in the fall.

"I'll be lining up in the backfield in one-back sets and carrying the ball more," said Barnett, who ran 33 times for 198 yards and three touchdowns and caught three passes for 67 yards as a junior.

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