PISCATAWAY, NJ – Situated less than a 10-minute drive apart from one another, High Point Solutions Stadium and Dominic R. Ciardi Field, home of the Rutgers University and Piscataway High School football teams respectively, have been home to many of the same gridiron stars.
Twelve former Chiefs have gone on to play for the hometown Scarlet Knights since 2000, and that includes two current Rutgers student-athletes in defensive end/rush end Elorm Lumor and running back Elijah Barnwell.
The two join the likes of tight end/fullback Ray Pilch, linebacker Brandon Renkart, defensive lineman Brian Butler, linebacker Devraun Thompson, kicker/punter Matt Voliva, offensive lineman Anthony Davis, linebacker Marvin Booker, long snapper Jackson Maurer, wide receiver Jawaun Wynn and cornerback Nadir Barnwell, Elijah’s older brother, who played their college football about three miles away in the last 17 years.
"It's cool,” said Lumor, a redshirt freshman on being able to play five minutes down the road. “I can go home whenever I want to. I think that's what everybody and all of New Jersey should do. ‘Fence the Garden’ like (head) coach (Chris) Ash says and stay home.”
Added Barnwell just before he committed back in late January: “It means a lot (to stay home and play at Rutgers)," Barnwell said. "I get to play in my hometown on a big stage and represent my town and my family the right way."
Since being an early enrollee in January of 2016, Lumor has bulked up, moving from linebacker to a hybrid defensive end/stand-up rush end role.
"We're trying to become more athletic," Rutgers defensive line coach Shane Burnham said on the change of position for Lumor back in the spring. "Any time you're in a four-down front like we are most of the time, you see it all the time: You take big linebackers and make them ends. You take big ends and grow them into tackles. And take big tackles that can't move and give them to (offensive line coach) AJ (Blazek), like Kamaal (Seymour).
"That's kind of the way it goes. You move down and closer to the ball to try to become more athletic at the position. I think that's what the goal was for those guys. We need more speed on the edge, and those guys allow us to get some of that out there."
With the season kicking off under lights at HPSS on Sept. 1 at 8 p.m against No. 8 Washington, Lumor is expected to play a big role in terms of bringing a pass rush. The 6-foot-3, 245-pounder red-shirted last year, but has seen reps with the first and second teams this summer.
“At first it was tough (sitting out last season), because you know when you come to college you're used to playing in high school and I just had to take a backseat and get better," Lumor said. "Now I'm here and it's my time to show them what I got.”
While Lumor is set to see playing time this season, Barnwell will 99.9 percent red-shirt in 2017. Rutgers has three seniors, two sophomores, and another freshman who will see the field before Barnwell.
Like Lumor, it will be tough for the record-setting tailback to watch from the sidelines, but he is improving every single day.
“Elijah Barnwell is doing everything that he can right now to learn the offense and is doing things well,” said Scarlet Knights running backs coach, Lester Erb. “Shoot, what did he rush for over 5,000 yards in one of the biggest conferences in New Jersey? You watch the guy on film and he’s just a productive guy.
“Backs come in all shapes and sizes, but Elijah is doing a great job for us. Obviously he’s a freshman and everything we’ve thrown at him (during training camp) is a little overwhelming to him, but he’s doing a great job picking it up and moving forward. He’s trying to improve every single day. That’s all we can ask for him.”
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