Nadir Barnwell, a senior quarterback and free safety from Piscataway High School, who is one of the northeast’s top recruits, separated his right shoulder making a tackle during Wednesday’s scrimmage against national power Don Bosco Prep.
Piscataway head coach Dan Higgins said Barnwell apparently suffered no ligament damage, and that doctors popped the star player’s shoulder back into place.
Higgins said Barnwell will consult an orthopedic sports specialist today, adding there is no timeline for the return of Barnwell, who will miss the season opener.
“The best news is we know he’s coming back,” Higgins said. “In the meantime, we are going to have to develop some depth from other players … so when he comes back we are going to be a better football team.”
Senior Keith Bates and junior Justin Strothers will compete for the starting quarterback job, while Charles Gratz moves to Barnwell’s free safety spot and slot receiver Cameron Nash will be asked to double as a cornerback.
“Nadir’s disappointed because he feels like he’s not out there with the team and he let them down,” said Higgins, whose Chiefs are the two-time defending North 2 Group IV champions. “He’s one of those guys that I think will continue to lead us while he’s recovering.”
Higgins said he believed Barnwell’s injury will not adversely impact his recruitment, noting that Michigan, Rutgers, Michigan State and Maryland are currently among Barnwell’s top choices.
“He’s a kid that had dozens of offers from some of the top programs – you’re talking Notre Dame, Florida, Michigan – and I think what scared some schools away from really getting involved with him is how close he is to Rutgers, and there’s a feeling that that’s where he’s going to wind up,” said Brian Dohn, northeast recruiting analyst for Scout.com. “Nadir is an elite athlete. If he was two or three inches taller, the way he plays quarterback, everybody would be comparing him to Michael Vick. Unfortunately, at 5-foot-10, there’s not a huge market for quarterbacks his size at BCS schools. Fortunately for Nadir, he’s quick and aggressive enough to play cornerback, and he could also play receiver – at one time Florida liked him as a receiver – so luckily with him, he’s really good on both sides of the ball.”
Higgins said Barnwell, who ranks among the top 5 all-time in school history in completions (204), passing yards (2,326) and touchdowns thrown (26), suffered the injury on an outside run play late in Wednesday’s scrimmage.
“He went to make the tackle from a distance,” Higgins explained. “He really came in hard and he caught the corner of his shoulder right on top of the (running back’s) shoulder pad. Nadir is a really strong kid, thick up top. It really hurt him a lot when it happened.”