After pondering his Rutgers offer for a week, Hun School (Princeton, N.J.) rising senior Dante Barone is a Scarlet Knight. A 6-3, 270-pound defensive lineman who also plays h-back, Barone will play the latter at Rutgers after committing to head coach Greg Schiano on Wednesday.
“Coach (Andrew) Aurich and coach (Bob) Fraser came down a couple times after last season. I always had nice talks with them but the interest picked up when they decided they wanted to take an H-back, which was about a month ago,” Barone told NJ Advance Media. Then I started talking more to coach Nunz(io Campanile).”
Rutgers is just a half-hour from Barone’s Colts Neck home and has ties to the Monmouth County standout.
Barone played his sophomore and junior years at Manalapan before transferring to Hun and repeating his junior year. Now, he heads into his senior year before migrating to Rutgers in ‘23.
Barone’s pledge was set in motion last week following a trip to campus on Thursday when he and his dad, Frank, asked all the hard questions.
The night before, Barone had a zoom meeting with Campanile and Aurich which Schiano joined before inviting Barone to Rutgers the next day.
“They were trying to see if I’m the right guy for that h-back role since they typically don’t offer one,” he said.
Dante and Frank were given an in-depth tour of Rutgers’ facilities and student life which preceded a one-hour talk with Schiano himself: “The biggest thing that sold me on coach Schiano is that he talks about more than just football. He talks about life and his connections that he’ll set me up with, especially being a business major. And just how, overall, I can succeed at Rutgers,” Barone said. “The talk ended with an offer and I walked out really impressed.”
But, what did Frank think?
“He definitely loved it,” said Dante, whose brother Francesco, a class of 2022 safety, will attend UPenn next fall. “Dad got the same feeling as I did. Walking out of that place, it was kind of like, ‘I don’t know what’s going to top this.’ We said that to each other at the end.”
Ultimately, it all came down to Rutgers’ “culture” and the role Barone will play in P-way.
“Rutgers has that unique “H” position that Johnny Langan and Matt Alaimo play – two guys I’d love to emulate,” he said. “Just watching their film and comparing it to mine with coach Nunz(io Campanile) play-by-play, I see myself completely killing that role.
“I’m willing to do whatever – offense, defense, special teams, you name it. But, I’m versatile, so h-back is the best role I could play.”
Illinois, where teammate and offensive lineman Zach Aamland committed on Monday, led heading into Thursday, but Schiano took control from there.
“About a week ago, my pick became very clear to me,” said Barone, who will join two Hun teammates when he arrives at Rutgers next year.
Incoming freshman four-star offensive tackle Jacob Allen arrived on campus this week. Classmate and more traditional tight end Logan Blake picked Rutgers last week, too.
“Jake moved in Monday. I definitely talked to him and he’s helped me a lot with this decision,” Barone said. “He said that just mentally and physically, being around Rutgers has been great. Their training and recovery program, and the coaching staff treats him really well. His words played a big role in my decision.”
Barone, however, will spend more time at Rutgers with Blake.
“We’re going to be in the same tight end room playing different roles but under the same tight ends coach, which should be really special,” Barone said.
It’s rare that a Power Five school will recruit two tight ends from the same class and at the same school. But, Barone and Blake are unique enough that their roles won’t overlap much.
“The traditional FBS tight end right now is 6-5, 6-6, and plays out of the dirt in a three-point stance,” said Baron, who is N.J.’s shot put state champion after throwing a personal record of 47-6 during track and field season. “I’m going to do some of that, especially during double tight formations. But I’ll also be in the slot, in the backfield as a wing moving around like Johnny does.
“That’s what separates the roles. You can do a lot of things with an h-back. The coaches love their 12 personnel where they bring two tight ends onto the field. But it’ll be one traditional tight end and one h-back who will move around.”
MORE FROM TODDERICK HUNT:
Recruiting Black football players at Rutgers during America’s polarizing fight for social change
Meet the 2021 NJ.com All-College Football team, featuring top players across the country who come from New Jersey
Presenting the NJ.com Top 50, Jan. 2022, a list of New Jersey’s top high school football recruits (regardless of grade)
WATCH: Hanging around Washington Township with OL John Stone, Rutgers’ newest Scarlet Knight and face of its 2023 class
Thank you for relying on us to provide the journalism you can trust. Please consider supporting us with a subscription.
Todderick Hunt may be reached at email@example.com.