PISCATAWAY, NJ—Rutgers football team secured a huge recruiting victory on August 8 when safety Patrice Rene chose the Scarlet Knights over Ohio State, Penn State and other schools.
The highly-touted defensive back declared his intentions to play football on the banks through a post on Twitter.
“I have decided to further my education and football career at RUTGERS UNIVERSITY,” Rene wrote.
Rene immediately becomes the highest-ranked commit in Rutgers’ 19-man 2016 recruiting class. Recruiting site 247Sports.com lists him as a four-star recruit, and the tenth ranked prospect from Virginia.
He is the third defensive back to commit to the Scarlet Knights’ current recruiting class, joining Damon Hayes of Maryland and New Jersey’s Phil Campbell III.
The Ottawa, Canada native currently plays for Episcopal High School in Virginia. He will play his senior season this fall before joining Rutgers next year.
Rutgers was the first team to offer Rene, extending him a scholarship offer on May 16 of last year, but far from the last.
The safety held scholarship offers from a total of 27 teams, including Boston College, Duke, Mississippi State, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Virginia Tech and others.
He also generated interest from programs like Michigan, Michigan State, Maryland, Florida, Notre Dame and Clemson.
Several of Rutgers’ Big Ten foes offered Rene, including Penn State, Nebraska, Minnesota and Northwestern. However, no one posed a bigger threat to the Scarlet Knights than the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Ohio State was one of the first teams to express interest in Rene, hosting him at a football camp in June 2013.
The Buckeyes became the second program to offer him a scholarship when they did so in June 2014.
Rene was on Ohio State’s campus in Columbus, Ohio, as recently as July 24, when he attended the Buckeyes’ “Friday Night Lights” camp.
However, it was not enough to sway the talented safety, who ended up pledging to Rutgers anyway.
Rutgers can certainly use Rene’s help in the secondary. In terms of passing yards allowed, last year the Scarlet Knights ranked 68th in the nation with an average of 227.8 yards per game.
That figure ranks near the bottom of the Big Ten athletic conference, ahead of only Maryland and Indiana.
With defensive backs Lorenzo Waters, Gareef Glashen and Johnathan Aiken all having graduated after last season, Rutgers will be fielding a young and fairly inexperienced defensive backfield this year.
Rutgers’ secondary fields no seniors this season, so the defensive backfield in 2016 will look pretty much the same as it does now.
Among the team’s safeties this season are junior Delon Stephenson, junior Anthony Cioffi and redshirt freshman Saquan Hampton competing for snaps at free safety, with redshirt junior Davon Jacobs and redshirt freshman Kiy Hester battling for the strong safety job.
Hester is a former four-star recruit with a high ceiling that could hold down the strong safety job for years to come, so Rene’s best chance for playing time next year could be at free safety.
Rene’s commitment could be a major step in securing a commitment from fellow Canadian recruit and 2017 star defensive end Luiji Vilain.
Vilain, Rene’s teammate at Episcopal, is a four-star recruit, according to 247Sports. He received a scholarship offer from Rutgers on the same day Rene received his.
Vilain isn’t expected to announce his decision until next year, but it appears Rutgers is currently in the lead for his services, thanks in large part to Rene’s commitment.