"It felt good because I didn't even know they were that interested in me," he said. "They wanted to offer me. It feels good to know that they really like me, and want me to be a part of their team."
The 6-foot-1, 210-pound 2015 prospect picked up the offer after Rutgers tight ends coach Anthony Campanile stopped by Paramus Catholic Thursday. Brightwell already holds an offer from Boston College, but said he likes the Rutgers defense.
"I think they like me because of my diversity and how I play both safety and linebacker," Brightwell said. "I can switch and do multiple positions. I play both and I like both. I can make plays either way. That's what they see in me. They can switch me back and forth."
Brightwell added that the proximity to home that Rutgers offers is of interest.
"I like New Jersey a lot, but it isn't like I'd have a problem going away if I have to," Brightwell said. "… I would say education is the most important. I understand that not everyone is going to the NFL. I would love to go to the NFL, but sometimes there's a reality check. I would like to go somewhere that has good academics too. I want to play for a team that's like a family. That's what we have [at Paramus Catholic]."
Brightwell rose to prominence as a junior, where he won his second state championship ring and led Paramus Catholic with 100 tackles.
Going into Brightwell's senior season, he will be one of a few players on defense expected to carry the load for departing five-star cornerback Jabrill Peppers.
"I can't wait for the season already," Brightwell said. "We have to prove something. That's the goal, another championship. Everyone thinks that since Jabrill left, since the [2014 class] left, we're going to be an underdog. Everybody thinks we aren't going to be as good, and I can't wait to get on the field and prove them wrong."