Recruiting heated up this week for Piscataway (N.J.) 2017 running back Elijah Barnwell. One of the stars for Piscataway, Barnwell unofficially visited crosstown school Rutgers for a junior day event.
Barnwell reeled in an offer before the Rutgers coaching change, and new leader Chris Ash expressed the same interest level in the 6-foot, 190-pound prospect.
“It’s still the same interest,” Barnwell said. “I still like Rutgers a lot. It’s still a home school that’s down the street. I still really like them but I’m still open to all schools.”
Barnwell sat through a presentation about the changes at Rutgers and also spoke with running backs coach Zak Kuhr during his time on campus.
“I got to meet everybody, the new staff. I got to meet everybody, especially the new running backs coach and he seemed like a cool dude,” Barnwell said. “He was just going over the kind of drills and their focus with everything coming into the season. I like coach Ash’s mindset and I like where he’s going with Rutgers. He’s trying to change things around back to a great place before everything that happened last year.”
Barnwell’s older brother, Nadir Barnwell, took center stage for off-the-field problems during coach Kyle Flood’s final days in charge. Although an ugly 2015 for both parties, it has no impact on the younger Barnwell’s relationship with Rutgers, he said.
“They’re still interested in me and I’m still interested in them, so it’s not really affecting me,” Barnwell said. “It’s just something that’s bad. I wish it never happened but you have to learn from mistakes. Nadir’s still going to finish school somewhere. He still has a shot.”
Barnwell has a new tie to Rutgers in linebacker Elorm Lumor, who played at Piscataway before a prep season at Milford Academy.
“I haven’t gotten to speak to him yet but I’m just happy for him,” Barnwell said. “I’m happy he made it to Rutgers and he’ll have a chance to start this year.”
Barnwell holds verbal offers from Rutgers, Massachusetts and Boston College. Ha plans for a busy summer in recruiting with camps at Notre Dame, Penn State, Rutgers and Temple.
“My parents, especially my dad, want me to go to a very smart school, so I can learn,” Barnwell said. “Tradition will probably be second to that. That’s pretty much it.”