Four-star DE high on Irish

FORT WAYNE, Ind. – A Notre Dame offer would make the Irish a top contender for four-star defensive end Luiji Vilain, who visited campus for the first time last weekend.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Notre Dame hosted a pair of junior Canadian four-star prospects last weekend in defensive end Luiji Vilain and junior defensive back Jonathan Sutherland.

“I came in expecting a lot, and I was still blown away,” Vilain said. “The entire staff welcomed us, and I got to meet coach (Keith) Gilmore, and they showed us around campus. Overall, it was just a great experience and really opened my eyes.”

Vilain, who will attend Episcopal in Alexandria, Va., for his junior year, already holds offers from Minnesota, Penn State, Rutgers, Syracuse and South Florida.

“I think they are on the fence about offering,” Vilain said. “They want me to come back for Irish Invasion, so hopefully I can make that. I sat down and talked with (Gilmore) for about 20 minutes during my visit. He told me to stay physical and to keep working. Academics were the main thing he stressed.”

On Sunday, Irish assistant Mike Elston evaluated the 6-foot-3, 240-pound defensive end prospect at the AWP Sports R.A.S. Showcase.

“I’ve heard a lot of great things about Notre Dame,” Vilain said. “Obviously it’s a great football program with great tradition. An offer would mean a lot. It would definitely be a changing factor for me.  They would definitely be at the top when I decide.”

Vilain plans to take his recruitment into the fall in order to take official visits before deciding on a school. He’s already visited Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, Rutgers and Syracuse.

“I don’t plan on having favorites for a while,” Vilain said. “I plan on taking visits to a lot of schools first.”

Following a strong showing against solid competition, Vilain was named as one of the top five defensive line performers on Sunday. Michigan State commitment and former Notre Dame recruiting target Auston Robertson was named MVP at the position.

“Speed is my main thing,” Vilain said. “I’m really fast off the line. Last year my hands weren’t so good, but this offseason I spent most of it working on my hands, and I just combined the two, and I’ve gotten a lot better.”


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