U-M Makes Canadian Trio Feel Special

Over the years the Michigan football program has shown a willingness to look north of the border for talent. Now it appears ready to do so again.

Canadian standouts Patrice Rene, Jonathan Sutherland, and Luiji Villain made it stateside to participate in the Sound Mind Sound Body Camp last week, and all three gave huge glimpses of their potential.  Their mentor Victor Tedondo insists the best is yet to come.

“In press coverage (Patrice Rene) is good,” said Tedondo.  “He is big, he strong, he is what a lot of coaches are looking for right now… that big corner.  He fits the mold perfectly.  I want to see how he does playing off.  That’s one of the things he will be working on this summer.”

“Jonathan Sutherland is one of our better athletes.  He is a hell of a football player.  He is one of those kids that you can put anywhere on the field and he can perform. Out of the three kids I think he is the most aggressive one. “

“Luiji Villain is special.  He still has some baby fat, but he has a nice athletic frame. One thing that definitely stands out about Luiji is his first step.  I coached a defensive lineman a couple of years ago named Eli Ankou who is at UCLA right now. Comparing the two of them Luiji is a lot meaner and his first step is ridiculous. He has really good speed.  He is going to be a playmaker. He is one of those kids that will probably play early in his career in college.

Villain has three more years to hone his skills whereas Rene and Sutherland only have two.  That’s why they each made the decision to transfer to Alexander (Va.) Episcopal high school to finish out their careers.

Said Tedondo, “Rene is still young.  He turned 16 not that long ago.  As of right now he is 190, so he could grow into a safety.  But ideally he likes that corner position. A lot of schools are looking at him for both.  A lot of it depends on whether or not he grows.  He is still raw at the DB position. He is a second-year player at the position, so he has work to do. 

“I think (Sutherland) is going to be a strong safety. He is going to fill out nicely. He could play offense though.  That’s one of the reasons I had him work out at running back.  He can run the ball and he has real good hands.  They could definitely make him a playmaker. What he needs to work on right now… he is fast for his age, but he needs to drop that at least a 4.4.  He is pushing 6-0, 190, he is strong, he is aggressive, and we need to make sure he stays fast.”

Michigan appears poised to monitor the progress of all three very closely.  That much was made clear when they made their way to Ann Arbor.

“It was exciting,” Tedondo said.  “I brought Michael O’Connor over there a couple of years ago, and the type of welcome Luiji received today compared to Michael… it was two different stories. Brady Hoke was there… it was different.  All three kids felt special.  They really felt special.  One of the things the coach are really excited about is them going to Episcopal high school because of the academics  When they found out the kids were going to Episcopal, that was a bonus.  That’s going to help prepare athletically and academically.”

After one more year in Canada Villain plans to join his friends stateside. That said, he could receive an offer before that.

“With Luiji they saw enough (at Sound Mind Sound Body),” said Tedondo.  “One of the reasons they are holding off right now is he is really young, but Luiji is going to have an offer. The two guys they need to see a lot more of are Sutherland and Rene.  They need to see more film.  The film from Canada is an issue though. It’s the competition.  The competition is really weak.  The quality of film alone is not good. But I’m not really worried because they’re young and they’re awfully hungry.  I think they’re all going to have a Michigan offer.”

And should Michigan extend scholarships to all three…

“The chances (of getting them) are high,” said Tedondo.  “One of the reasons is proximity from home. It’s an eight to nine hour drive.  And then there are the academics.  With that coaching staff at Michigan the odds are really high.”

“(The odds of them all going to the same school) are pretty high.  They spend a lot of time together.  They spend about 15 hours together per week. So they’re really really close."

Stay tuned to GoBlueWolverine for more on Rene, Sutherland, and Villain in the days and weeks to come.

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