Nadir Barnwell much needed piece for RU

Kyle Flood inherited a Rutgers program from Greg Schiano that is light-years ahead of where it was when Schiano took over more than a decade ago. So far as a coach and a recruiter, Flood is letting Scarlet Knights fans know the program is not heading back to the dark days.

The first-year coach landed an integral piece to the 2013 recruiting puzzle Tuesday when ESPN 300 athlete and New Jersey’s No. 9-ranked player Nadir Barnwell committed in a televised ceremony.

The nation’s 23rd-best athlete and No. 225 overall will stay close to home, as the Piscataway (N.J.) product will only have to travel a few miles down the road to reach Rutgers’ campus and facilities, also located in Piscataway.

“It’s home,” Barnwell said in an interview in late July about Rutgers. “I got a good relationship with the coaches, good relationship with the whole recruiting class. I’d be comfortable there. It wouldn’t be a dramatic change.”

The four-star recruit was always high on Rutgers, but at times it appeared possibly Florida or Penn State could land him. Eventually it was Tennessee as the last team standing in the way of Rutgers.

Former Piscataway standout and current 49ers offensive tackle Anthony Davis also played at Rutgers, and the Central Jersey public school also produced NFL first-round picks Malcolm Jenkins (Saints) and Kyle Wilson (Jets), also defensive backs.

Sidelined with an injury so far this season, Barnwell led Piscataway to back-to-back state championships the past two seasons as a quarterback. He will likely play defensive back in college.

Barnwell joins fellow ESPN 300 prospect Chris Laviano (Hicksville, N.Y./Holy Trinity Diocesan) in Rutgers' 2013 class.

Landing Barnwell was a necessity for Flood as he has had trouble landing the state’s top 2013 talent. Barnwell is the only top-10 player in New Jersey committed to Rutgers. In the 2012 class, Rutgers signed six of the state’s 12 best players.

Last January, Flood kept together and finalized what could be Rutgers’ best class ever, signing six four-star prospects including ESPN 150 defensive lineman Darius Hamilton.