"They all have that special ‘it factor,' Higgins said. "They're competitiveness, all of these guys like Kyle [Wilson] or Nadir … the thing that separates them, and this isn't a secret, is they're always the hardest working guys. They're more talented and the hardest working."
Barnwell shows many of the same qualities as the NFL trio from Piscataway and will bring those talents to Rutgers.
"The secret ingredient, which is not going to surprise you, is they love to compete," Barnwell said. "They have that hunger for competitive greatness. They want to compete in anything and everything and that's exactly how Nadir is. I know he's going to go to Rutgers and he's going to keep getting better."
Rutgers is a known commodity in Piscataway and, for Higgins, it is the right fit for Barnwell.
"It does seem like the best fit," Higgins said. "I have to give [Rutgers] a lot of credit because of how hard they recruited him. [Defensive coordinator] Robb Smith has been recruiting him for a long time. As an assistant under Greg Schiano, Robb had a great rapport with Nadir. When Robb moved up the food chain when Greg left, it just seemed like even more influence on Nadir."
The Piscataway pipeline established itself in 2007 when Davis arrived and continues with Barnwell being the fourth scholarship player in a six-year span.
"There's no doubt that having our guys there helps as well," Higgins said. "Marvin is great any time Nadir has gone over to him at practice. He sees Marvin, he sees Jawaun, [Anthony Davis] went through there and countless other guys from Piscataway.
"The other thing is, we've played in that stadium for the last two years in a row in a state playoff game and I think he's comfortable. I think he's proud of New Jersey football. He loves his family a lot and wants them to be close by to see him play all the time. I just think it's the right fit for a lot of reasons."
The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Barnwell projects as a defensive back, and is expected to begin at cornerback with Rutgers.
"I think he's best as a corner, not that he can't play offense, but I just think it's what he does best," Higgins said. "I just think that he has a competitive nature about him with his athleticism and physicality. I just think he's a natural fit at corner, especially the way Rutgers likes to play corner. I think he's a great fit there because he prefers a bump-and-run style. He likes to be physical and you see a lot of that at Rutgers."
From a talent standpoint, Higgins sees Barnwell as on-par with the other top prospects from Piscataway in recent years.
"I think he's an explosive type of player," Higgins said. "He's always been from the first year he played as a freshman all the way until now. I think he understands the game really well and that's why he was about to play so early. That doesn't happen often in our program. He's pretty mature on the field."