30 NJ Players to Watch: Nadir Barnwell
MSG Varsity counts down the top 30 New Jersey athletes to watch, in no particular order, for the upcoming school year. Today, we highlight No. 14, Piscataway football star Nadir Barnwell.
Piscataway football fans have certainly had a long, pleasant eyeful of Nadir Barnwell, who'll start at quarterback for the fourth consecutive season this fall and has led the Chiefs to two straight sectional titles.
But as spectacular as Barnwell has been during this run of success as both QB and cornerback, it's what is not routinely seen on Game Day that truly distinguishes the senior from so many other stellar athletes.
"He has a burning desire to be the best, so he will continue to grow and get better," head coach Dan Higgins said. "It's in his makeup, part of his DNA. I've seen talented kids before, and I've seen talented kids who are the hardest working kids on the team. That's him. Those kinds of kids are worth their weight in gold."
College scouts around the nation have recognized Barnwell's considerable physical attributes for some time now. He's been clocked at 4.4 in the 40, possesses a rare combination of elusiveness and power and is extremely versatile. He holds some 25 scholarship offers according to Higgins, with most of the schools zeroing in on Barnwell as a corner, but also cognizant of his impact on a game with the ball in his hands.
"He's the complete package," Higgins said. "College coaches see the physicality in his play and his great athleticism, but what they really love is the leadership he shows on the offensive side. Even though he doesn't project as QB, some do see him as a split receiver; they see him as a playmaker."
The playmaker had some serious work to do last year after Piscataway opened at 1-2 and faced the sobering prospect of not qualifying for the North Jersey, Section 2, Group 4 playoffs--after claiming that section in 2010 behind Barnwell with a 12-0 mark.
Barnwell was fabulous on both sides of the ball last fall to help the Chiefs claim the eighth and final playoff spot, then guided them to consecutive wins over Hunterdon Central, East Orange Campus and Elizabeth to repeat as champion.
"He's not just an impact player because of his speed and athleticism, but a guy who'll push us through the hard times," Higgins said. "He's not afraid to speak his mind and let everyone know what has to be done to make things right.
"But whatever it is Nadir is asks of them, he's already done it himself," he said. "When you have a kid that good who's also the hardest worker, the other kids follow suit. That's something really special."
Mike Kinney covers football for MSG Varsity. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeKinneyHS