Before heading off to North Carolina, signee Patrice Rene competed in the VISAA State Championship Track and Field Meet on May 21.
“I was healthy throughout the whole season, which was something I was kind of working towards,” Rene said. “Last year, I was running and kind of pulled my hamstring. But, I was healthy this year and it worked out pretty well for me.”
Pretty well meant Rene qualifying for the 100-meter dash with an 11.09-second time. In the state meet, he posted an 11.26 time and finished seventh. He also was a part of Alexandria (Va.) Episcopal’s 4x100 relay team, which finished fifth.
Alongside track practice, Rene followed the workout packet sent to him by Lou Hernandez, UNC’s strength and conditioning coach. Rene also made sure to squeeze in time for defensive back drills.
Rene played his senior season at 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds. He says he’s now in the 195-200-pound range.
“In season, I feel more comfortable playing in the 190-range – no higher than 195,” Rene said. “In the offseason, I actually put on more muscle. And then closer to the season that’s when I get my cardio in to drop down and even out.”
Having Rene at a comfortable weight already is important since Charlton Warren doesn’t plan to red-shirt Rene this season.
“He definitely expects me to come in and play,” Rene said. “If I’m ready to start, I’ll start. But, I’ll have an impact. And there are a couple of positions that are up for grabs. That was one of the reasons why I chose to go to UNC – to have the opportunity to step on the field early.”
With that said, Rene’s exact position is up in the air.
“It’s kind of funny: at the spring game, I was with Coach [Gene] Chizik and Coach Warren and they were introducing me to someone,” Rene said. “Chizik said, ‘Here’s our future safety.’ And then Warren said, ‘No, he’s a corner.’”
The consensus, though, Rene is capable of playing cornerback, safety, or nickel back.
“I think that Coach Warren wants to start me off at one of the corners,” Rene said. “He’ll have Des [Lawrence] at the other and then have M.J. [Stewart] at nickel. But he wants me to learn all the positions so that I can play nickel and M.J. plays corner with Des.”
As he mentioned, Rene returned to UNC for its spring game. The majority of that stay was spent furthering his relationships with future teammates.
“Once I committed, a lot of the guys did a good job of reaching out,” Rene said. “It was pretty easy to transition into that family. They made it pretty easy for me. I’m real comfortable with all of them. I met most of the guys on my official [visit], because that was when they had all the signees for their official visits. And then after my official visit, I committed. So, we just clicked.”
Two days prior to Rene switching his commitment from Rutgers to UNC, D.J. Ford pledged to the Tar Heels. The two plan to room together this fall and are hoping to entice fellow DBs Greg Ross and K.J. Sails to join them.
This summer, Rene will share a room with Tyler Pritchett.
Rene’s high school jersey number, No. 21, was quickly snatched up by Myles Dorn. No matter, Rene was ready for a change - and he chose No. 8.
“Entering college, it’s a new chapter in my life,” Rene said. “I wanted to start fresh. I wanted a single digit number and I wanted 8 because it represents my mother’s birthday month. I wanted to do that special for her. And Coach Warren made sure to give it to me – I appreciate that.”
Attending a prestigious high school, UNC admissions and the NCAA Eligibility Center were never a worry for Rene. His focus now is pursuing a degree in business administration.
“My dream has always been to play in the NFL,” Rene said. “That involves a lot of money and I’ve always been business oriented as a child growing up. I always try to figure out ways to make money and manage money.
“Also, I would like to open my own clothing store with my sister. We’ve had that planned for a while.”
Rene graduated from Episcopal on Saturday. He’ll report to UNC on June 14.