Grad Transfer CB Patrice Rene fitting in for Rutgers Football
Coming out of Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Va. by way of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Patrice Rene committed to Rutgers to be a part of the recruiting class of 2016.
Then, the whole Kyle Flood fiasco happened and Rene looked elsewhere, eventually landing at North Carolina.
During normal circumstances, Rene would have used up his collegiate clock last year as a fifth-year senior for the Tar Heels. But, with the pandemic and the NCAA allowing student-athletes an extra year of eligibility, Rene had a chance to compete for one more year at the college level, and he came back to Rutgers.
"It's a crazy story but I like to think of it as everything comes back full circle," Rene said. "So coming out of high school I definitely wanted to come to Rutgers. That's the place I fell in love with at first. Unfortunately they had a coaching change, which led me to open up my recruitment again and go to North Carolina. I did my time there and enjoyed everything about it but when I got the opportunity to transfer with the NCAA allowing everybody an extra year it was really an opportunity start on my masters having graduated undergrad. Rutgers reached out.
"With coach (Bob) Fraser being here and coach (Greg) Schiano it was meant to be. I just felt like came full circle, this is where I supposed to be like in high school, and to have the opportunity to finish my career here is just a blessing."
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Rene entered a defensive back room that was already pretty strong at cornerback with Tre Avery, Avery Young, Max Melton, and a host of other younger players. Rene's addition has allowed Young to rotate between cornerback, safety, and nickel. Rene, whose best season was in 2018, mentioned he has fit in nicely with the team and has tried to shed his knowledge.
"We have a lot of talent in the DB room. There's a lot of young guys that have bright futures here, but for me it's been it's been an easy transition. Everybody welcomed me with open arms and made the transition for me easy," Rene said. "I'm a veteran. I bring a lot of experience. I've played in a lot of games and blessed enough to learn a couple of things and just kind of be a leader in the room. I'm just trying to rub off on the young guys, kind of give them a model. Everything has been good so far. Just trying to come here and compete. You have to earn everything here. I appreciate that. I didn't want to go someplace where everything was given to me. We're competing every day."
Playing cornerback has helped the transition as well as traditionally they mainly just cover the reciever in front of them. There's more to playing corner at Rutgers than just that, but he's adjusted and itches to compete every day.
"Most of the time you're covering the receiver, just being able to take him out of the game and out of the offense," Rene said. "That's like why I love the position. It's a lot of one-on-one battles and see who is the best. In this defense we use our corners in a lot of different ways. We have different schemes. I think I fit well. I'm learning new schemes and techniques and it's been great."
Rene has played in 45 games with 26 starts during his career. He's made 103 tackles with two interceptions and 12 pass breakups. In 2018, Rene started 11 games and tallied 31 tackles, two interceptions, five pass breakups and a fumble recovery.
He tore his ACL early in 2019 and came back to appear in 10 games with six starts in the secondary a year ago. It's been almost two years since his injury.
"First and foremost, Patrice is a long, athletic corner. You guys know I really like that and our staff likes that," Schiano said back in February of Rene. "More importantly, or as importantly, that alone would not have been reason, but coach Fraser had recruited Patrice when he was here at Rutgers before when I wasn’t here. And he had a tremendous relationship with him. And when he became available, Bob got on the table and said, ‘Look, I stand by this kid. Forget what you see on tape and I know you like that, coach. But this kid is a special kid and he is a cultural fit.’
"We get one year and I think he is going to be a great addition to our room. We got a lot of young corners, a lot of young secondary players who are going to play and are going to get their opportunity to play. But to have Patrice in there, another elder statesman, I think is really going to help us. And he’s going to make plays.”
Earlier this month, Rene was drafted by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the third round (21st overall). Rene will still play for the Scarlet Knights, but the Blue Bombers now hold his rights and can join the team afterwards. Should Rene made the NFL, Winnipeg still has his rights for a full calendar year after he is done playing in the league or anywhere else professionally.
"I was aware of it. Being Canadian, I know how that works out. I have a lot of friends back home that are going through that process," Renen said. "As a Canadian player they get to have the opportunity to draft me and reserve my rights. But I'm all committed to Rutgers at the moment right now and I decided to come here for an extra year for a reason. I have certain goals that I'm trying to accomplish and I think me being here is going to help me tremendously in accomplishing those goals.
"e being drafted, I don't take that lightly either. I'm very grateful for the opportunity. It's something that's there for me you know in the future. I'll never know where I'll end up, but I'm very grateful for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for giving me that opportunity. I'm all focused out here with Rutgers and ready to chop the moment. Broncos you know I'm ready to chop the moment and try and win that Big Ten Championship."
Follow Chris Nalwasky on Twitter @ChrisNalwasky.