Since 1997 when Kanata’s Pat Woodcock was signed to play for the Syracuse Orange in the NCAA, there hasn’t been a wide receiver from the Ottawa area to play at the division one. Canada in general has just recently been getting more attention from its skill position players with players like Chase Claypool, Joshua Palmer, John Metchie, Ajou Ajou and Chuba Hubbard all on their respective paths to success but one name that might be one of the biggest ones coming in the future and somebody that can make it to the division one level from Ottawa would be 6-foot-2 receiver Alex Vilain.
Alex Vilain believes he is a major threat to defensive backs all over the globe, not only in Canada and in 2020 he was able to showcase exactly that when he transferred from St. Matthew Catholic High School in Ottawa, Canada to Clearwater Academy International in Florida. He comments, “I’m ready to play at the next level. As soon as I get the opportunity I’ll show everything I have and prove that I am one of the best.” Running pristine routes, faster than many and using his body to win 50/50 balls, in just a couple games south of the border with the Clearwater Knights Vilain showcased small examples of what he can do at the next level and in his words being “one of the best” though it wasn’t just when he went to Florida where he demonstrated all of his skills. Ahead of the 2020 High School Football season spent under Coach Jesse Chinchar for the Clearwater Knights he showed dominance in Ottawa as a part of NCAFA’s North Gloucester Giants and Cumberland Panthers as well as the Saint Matthew Tigers where he was coached by 2020 Brian Kilrea award winner Coach Jean Guillaume.
Growing up, Vilain was extremely exposed to the game of football, having his brother Luiji Vilain playing before him and eventually playing at Michigan, now transferring to Wake Forest at the division one level and then being surrounded by friends that played too it wasn’t an option not to play. When looking back at the playing days in Ottawa, Alex Vilain showed a lot of excitement, highlighting the youth football that he played in the city, “its a big reason why I’m in the position I am right now.” he said, “Playing NCAFA with the NG Giants and then the Panthers was a great introduction and it was when I started going to St. Matts when I realized football could be a future for me.”
At St. Matthew High School in Orleans, just outside of Ottawa Alex Vilain found opportunity within the game of football and noticed that football is something that has kept him out of a lot of real world problems and will continue to keep him out of trouble. “When I went to St. Matts and played for Coach Jean I saw a lot of guys start to go D1 and being from Ottawa its not something that I was used to so now being close to where I can go that route it felt good to know its possible. I started to work harder and get better and football really has kept me out of trouble. I take a lot of my time to perfect my craft on the field and then studying for school separating me from all of the negativity on the streets.” Perfecting his craft, Vilain just recently was able to get an opportunity, like many before him have gotten from St. Matthews, to play at Clearwater Academy International in Clearwater, Florida. Clearwater Academy is a preparatory school in Clearwater, Florida which many of Canadian athletes have gone to over recent years, mostly from the help of Coach Jean Guillaume of Ottawa who has a connection with Coach Jesse Chinchar, the head coach of the Clearwater Knights. When interviewed about Alex Vilain and a group of Canadian players at Clearwater Academy International in January of this year John Garcia Jr. of Sports Illustrated All-American in Tampa Bay, Florida said, “Its not surprising that Chinchar got him. He likes to throw the ball and Vilain is a big target for quarterbacks at CAI, he has the ability to win the 50/50 ball and has good potential if he can grow off of last year.”
Last year with the Clearwater Academy International Knights Vilain suffered a leg injury, keeping him out of a few games but was still able to perform and showcase his talent in Florida against some of the top talent in the country. He says, “It was awesome to be able to have the opportunity to go down south. I needed to fix up my grades and get exposure for football, CAI was the best place for me and it offers me the best chance at a division one opportunity down the road where I can get my schooling paid for.”
Anyone involved with any sports or extracurricular activity knows that having your schooling paid for requires a lot of hard work and talent, Vilain knows that and is working towards achieving that. He has the talent to go division one, right now he is just working harder on and off of the football field to get the recognition he deserves. “He is a great prospect” said John Garcia Jr. of SI All-American, “he’s young now, but you can see how good he can be, he showed what the can do with the ball in his hands, he’s comfortable with it showing his run after catch and if he can polish his routes some more and work on getting open he can be a threat for CAI next year and could get the exposure.” As for exposure thus far, Vilain says he has talked with a couple of schools already but because of the NCAA’s dead period no coaches have been able to visit Clearwater Academy to get the full view of Alex Vilain. Once the dead period ends in the last week of May and the Knights are back to their training camp to prepare for the 2021 High School season expect Vilain and his Canadian receiver partner Dylan Djete to create some buzz in the recruiting world, they both are special talents and with the physicality and speed that Vilain has there’s no backing down that he has the potential to be the next receiver from Ottawa to go division one.
He would be the first one since Pat Woodcock went to Syracuse in the 1990s and Vilain “wants to beat the odds.” he said, “I have been working hard to get the opportunity and I will continue to work hard, if the opportunity comes I hope people aren’t surprised.”