Patrice Rene’s acclimation to American football and the United States in general have gone well.
The 6-foot-1, 193-pound 2016 three-star corner first popped onto Penn State’s radar when he was a sophomore playing in Canada with the Gridiron Academy. Then, in July, he decided he would head to the United States for his junior and senior years, and settled at Alexandria, Va., Episcopal.
Between adjusting to a new school and team, and balancing academics, Rene had not made any visits this fall. Until late November, anyway.
Rene was in town for Penn State’s regular season finale with Michigan State, the latest chapter in an already long-established relationship with the Lions that stretches two different staffs.
“It was great,” Rene said. “Both schools are schools that have been recruiting me hard and really on me lately. To see that kind of game, and atmosphere, was amazing.
“I really enjoyed it.”
Bill O’Brien first saw Rene when the corner came to a Penn State camp when O’Brien was still the Lions’ head coach. Now new head coach James Franklin and corner’s coach Terry Smith have built a quick rapport.
“Having a relationship with the head coach is big to me,” Rene said of Franklin. “He took time before the game to talk to me, and that was one of the reasons I had a great visit.
“Coach Smith loves the team and program, and he’s one of the coaches throughout the recruiting process I’ve stayed in touch with. He came to visit my school [last week]. Even though he was outside his recruiting area, he just wanted to make sure he stopped by.”
Two Penn State players, and fellow Canadians, have been willing to answer questions on any subjects the coaches can’t.
Quarterback Michael O’Connor and running back Akeel Lynch also made the Canada to United States adjustment, and the trio have known each other for a few years. Despite losing to the Spartans, 34-10, O’Connor and his parents had dinner with Rene, and he also ran it Lynch for a few minutes.
“I talked to both of them, and they keep pushing Penn State and would love for me to be a part of what they have going on,” Rene said. “They tell me great things about Penn State, and really want me to get there.”
The corner has seen his recruitment pick up of late. Wake Forest and Tennessee offered Tuesday, and all four FBS programs in Virginia continue to show steady interest. So do the Spartans and Duke. Rene may make some visits this winter, but will likely hit many colleges next summer.