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Commit Alert: Rutgers Football Adds Piscataway Athlete Elijah Barnwell

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Howard v Rutgers
Barnwell is the 24th scholarship commit for this class at last count.
Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

Rutgers football less than 24 hours away from the beginning of National Signing Day yet they continue adding talent to the program. Elijah Barnwell, a running back and linebacker from Piscataway, announced his pledge to the program today.

Tom Lemming who is considered the “expert” and wrote the bible on college recruiting is a fan.

Barnwell led Piscataway to a birth in the Group 5 playoffs. Despite questions about his size (some sources list him shorter than his Hudl 6’0) and 40 time (~4.7), Keith Sargeant mentions new Rutgers offensive coordinator Jerry Kill and running backs coach Lester Erb recruiting him which indicates Elijah will play running back. Running back has been the most fluid of any position in this Knights recruiting class as New Jersey stars Jonathan Taylor and Jonathan Lovett have both decommitted while reports covering the final days of the recruiting process have RU in the mix for a number of other players at the position. It’s unclear if a scholarship was firmly offered (though he was initially offered in March 2016) to Barnwell based on news on Cordarrian Richardson, Raheem Blackshear, or Terence Dunlap (expected to announce tomorrow at 8 am). Since the team’s primary ball carriers are rising seniors Robert Martin and Josh Hicks, and prior to Barnwell, zero tailback commits in this class so far, I expect Barnwell had a spot waiting for him as a Scarlet Knight regardless.

Despite interest from USC, Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State, Syracuse, Maryland, and Umass as per 247 Sports, Barnwell had been committed to Buffalo. The running back carousel is a little less wild than that at quarterback, but of course Rutgers is always a little more interesting than your average Power 5 program. Barnwell’s straight line 40 times have not blown people away like Taylor for example which is why he might have seen less firm offers. It is also to be noted that he is the younger brother of former Rutgers cornerback Nadir Barnwell who was a tremendously instinctual two-year starter dismissed from the team in fall 2015 after being involved in an altercation even though he likely would have been academically ineligible anyway. From what I have read, Elijah is viewed as his own person even though they both exhibit tremendous toughness and competitive spirit.

The 6’0”, 188 pound athlete did not draw high interest as a recruit initially, but Barnwell is a versatile football player and the type of individual that Rutgers needs to add more football skills to their program. As per his high school coach he played every down on offense AND defense this past season while putting up great stats on both sides of the ball. He could be an immediate special teams upgrade for the Knights.

Watching Barnwell’s film, he does not remind me of any one player. After seeing some of his cuts, that part of his game is reminiscent of Rutgers starting running back Robert Martin, in his ability to stop and adjust his upper body to prevent tacklers fast approaching him from the side to get solid contact. He differs from Martin in his higher energy level when initially reading the defense, as he is a little more aggressive getting to the hole. That part of his game is Josh Hicks-esque but at this point in his career Elijah doesn’t have the patience Hicks does. The unofficial 4.7 second 40 time doesn’t scare me when I see the highlights because Barnwell shows great burst when he is already in motion and decides to make a football move. He keeps his pad level low but his back upright, so it will be interesting to see if he can continue to fall forward at the college level. Once he gets in the open field he uses his height to stride and not get caught from behind like Ray Rice or Paul James occasionally would. He looks solid as a defender showing even more explosive ability when crushing opposing ball carriers, even though he won’t start his career on that side of the ball.

To see an updated list of the current class, click here. National signing day is less than 24 hours away on February 1st.

Welcome to Rutgers Elijah! Here are his senior year highlights.