Rutgers quarterback Gavin Wimsatt just got some help.
Naseim Brantley, a 6-4, 200-pound wide receiver from South Jersey, will spend his final year of eligibility at Rutgers. Brantley began his college career at Sacred Heart University, where he played alongside Rutgers Offensive lineman JD DiRenzo, before transferring to Western Illinois, where Brantley was named Missouri Valley Football Conference Newcomer of the Year after averaging over 17 yards per catch last fall. Like DiRenzo, who was invited to and played in the 2023 Hula Bowl following one year in Piscataway, Brantley has his sites on the NFL. And Rutgers, who plays in the Big Ten East, lends the stage for that goal.
Brantley was named a top FCS prospect for the 2023 NFL Draft in November by TheAnalyst.com, but Brantley will try his luck at in-state Rutgers, instead.
Following a quiet official visit to campus, Brantley has taken Greg Schiano up on a chance to come home and help Rutgers instantly. Brantley was Hosted by Veteran Offensive lineman Ireland Brown, and met Dave Brock, Rutgers’ newly-hired wide receivers coach, and Kirk Ciarrocca, who became the team’s Offensive Coordinator on Jan. 6.
It was a business trip for Brantley, who declined the customary spoils, including a trip to New York City and swanky restaurant hopping. Brantley chose not to disclose the long list of Power Five suitors for the same reason. He is focused on football and ensuring he gets what he needs out of his final college campaign while helping Ciarrocca and Rutgers’ offense score points.
In the Big Ten, which boasts physical defensive backs, teams need a guy who can just go up and get it. Shades of Sean Ryan, who came late last year for Rutgers, Brantley has an ideal skillset and size to thrive in the red zone.
Brantley has long arms, large hands and a large catch radius. An ex-hoops standout who prioritized the hardwood, Brantley attacks the football like a power forward rebounding the basketball. He plucks the ball out of the air, giving Rutgers a big-play threat who uses his size and physicality to move the chains.
Brantley, who will arrive at Rutgers on Wednesday as a graduate transfer, caught 53 passes for 903 yards and nine touchdowns last fall. He excelled against Rutgers’ Big Ten foe — the University of Minnesota (3 catches, 50 yards, TD) — and against South Dakota State (4 catches, 107 yards), who won the FCS national title in 2022.
A Farmingdale native, Brantley starred for Howell high school where he caught 47 passes for 804 yards and 11 touchdowns in 11 career games despite not playing football until his junior year of high school in 2016. Brantley went on to become a three-time NEC Champion and three-time All-NEC pick at Sacred Heart before transferring to Western Illinois where he was named FCS second-team All-America and first-team All-MVFC by Phil Steele in 2022.
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Todderick Hunt may be reached at [email protected].