Just how badly is Rutgers screwed at corner?

Rich Schultz

Nadir Barnwell's suspension makes a terrible situation worse

The Rutgers athletic department announced earlier today that freshman corner Nadir Barnwell would be suspended at least one week following an idiotic, indefensible arrest by campus police for driving while intoxicated. An already terrible corner depth chart for the Knights (see Saturday's debacle vs. Houston, where the Cougars passed at will) has somehow gotten even worse. A quick recap:

Logan Ryan - junior declared for the draft, joining graduating seniors Duron Harmon, Marcus Cooper, and Brandon Jones as selections last April. He was supposed to be replaced by...

Lew Toler - fifth year Western Michigan transfer was playing well, but is out for the season (and his Rutgers career is over) after breaking his arm against Louisville.

Gareef Glashen - missed several games earlier in the season under mysterious circumstances, but did return on Saturday. Is currently the only non-freshman corner on the roster.

Nadir Barnwell - See above.

Ian Thomas - Shockingly quit the team last week, which is what threw everything into chaos to begin with.

That leaves Rutgers with true freshman Anthony Cioffi, true freshman Delon Stephenson (who prepped a year, so he's more like a RS freshman at least), redshirt freshman Jevon Tyree, and, well, your guess is as good as mine after that point.

How the heck did Rutgers get into this mess? Tejay Johnson and John Aiken came to campus as corner recruits, with Johnson considered a quite good one actually, but both bulked up and outgrew the position. Abdul Smith transferred soon after arriving on campus, and while he's currently starting for Temple, four years should be more than enough time to replace a guy that the staff wasn't that high on. Darrell Givens came to Rutgers as an elite recruit, but the late enrollee (he originally signed with Penn State) never panned out. The bigger killer was Rashad Knight, who was initially recruited as corner before quickly moving to safety, and then later on transferred despite seeing decent playing time. He was a much bigger loss, as was Jordan Thomas, who make a pitt stop at Binghamton to run track, before resurfacing as a safety with Delaware. Likewise, recruit Charles Davis failed to qualify in 2011.

Could any recruits who signed with other schools have helped? Lafayette Pitts briefly committed to Rutgers after Pittsburgh fired Dave Wannstedt, only to switch back to the Panthers after they offered his cousin. Few recent New Jersey recruits have been as controversial as Yuri Wright, but he has not been able to climb up the depth chart much with Colorado. Kye Morgan might have went to Rutgers two years ago instead of Tyree if Greg Schiano hadn't stopped recruiting him early in the process. Brandon Reddish is likely another player who attends Rutgers if the Knights hadn't backed off him.

Surely, Schiano could have taken a chance on a few more sleepers out of Florida, a few more Glashens, just to build up depth. It's easy to criticize in retrospect, but even replacing Ryan with Toler left the depth chart perilously thin on upperclassmen entering the season. Kyle Flood certainly can be blamed for a lot of things going wrong with Rutgers football at the moment, but at least in the secondary, he's been snakebit by a combination of both awful luck, and atrocious roster management and projection by Greg Schiano.

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