Stroy by Brice Marich
Interview by Sam Webb
Alexandria (Va.) Episcopal senior defensive end Luiji Vilain has been committed to Michigan for so long that many fans seemed to have forgotten the major buzz generated when he announced his pledge last spring. They were reminded in a huge way by his scintillating performance in the Under Armour All American game in Orlando, Florida Sunday. The future Wolverine was so impressive that he earned recognition as one of Scout.com’s top five performers.
“If you want to know who was close to about half a dozen sacks, it would be this guy,” said Scout.com’s Corey Bender. “Vilain got around the corner and pressure the quarterback numerous times. He also flushed the quarterback out of the pocket and set the edge against the run a couple of times too. The Michigan commit has only played a couple of years (in the United States), so his future is bright.”
That four-star edge rusher migrated from Canada two short years ago is well known, and it explains why many predicted his impact in college being more gradual than immediate. However, after a week where he got better and better against some the nation’s premiere offensive line talents, some now believe he push his game to new heights quicker than expected.
“Coming here and going against great competition is really bringing the best out of me,” Vilain told The Michigan Insider.
“It is a lot different,” he later added. “I have been playing in the states for two years now and I think my game has gotten a lot better. Getting used to the whole speed thing because in Canada, the size and speed is completely different.”
Like many of the prospects going into these all-star games, the biggest challenge to face is the speed of the game. For Vilain, that was also the case at first. It took a little time for him to get going, but as the week of practices progressed and then even in the game, he showed why Greg Mattison might be able to utilize him in pass rush situations even as a true freshman
“The speed of the offense and strength of the offensive linemen (I had to get used to) because where I come from the league I play in, we don’t play linemen this big or strong.” said Vilain.
“These guys are really good. Like I said, they bring out the best in me and I have no choice but to give the best.”
The 6-foot-4, 240-pounder isn’t among Michigan’s early enrollees, but he doesn’t plan to take it easy the next five months. Being “ready” when he reports to Ann Arbor is his chief priority.
“They want me to come in and do what Taco (Charlton) did and play his position,” said Vilain. “They didn’t tell me a specific weight, but they just want me to come in lean with no bad weight.”
“I’m going to get with my trainer and defensive line coach back at school and work with him the whole offseason. I’m going to lift and train and head up to Michigan a few times to visit too."
Vilain has come a long way from his playing days in Canada to now. He has gone from an unknown prospect back at the 2014 Sound Mind Sound Body camp in Detroit to being recognized as one of the top defensive ends in the nation.
And it appears the best is yet to come.null