In today’s day and age, you can turn on the television on Sunday to watch your weekly dose of NFL football and do so seeing Canadian players playing regularly. During the 2021-22 NFL season we have already seen Canadians Chase Claypool, Chuba Hubbard, Jevon Holland, Benjamin St Juste, Christian Covington, Tevaughn Campbell and Joshua Palmer each make large impacts for their respective NFL teams alongside other Canadians and that trend will only continue through the remainder of the season.
With 6 weeks of NFL regular season football left in the year, expect to see a lot more Canadians making plays on the big stage, but not only this year but moving forward as well. In the 2022 NFL Draft, which is expected to take place at the end of April 2022 we are going to see even more Canadians enter the NFL including a number of players from the nation’s capital, Ottawa. Among the Ottawa-raised players eligible for the 2022 NFL Draft is Wake Forest’s Luiji Vilain who is to play in the ACC Championship on Saturday with the Demon Deacons as they kickoff against the Pitt Panthers.
Vilain is originally from the east-end of Ottawa where he began playing football and trained with Victor Tedondo at Gridiron Academy. He starred at a young age on the football field, opening the opportunity to take his talents across the border, eventually playing football and attending school at Episcopal High School in Virginia alongside other Gridiron Academy members Patrice Rene, Jonathan Sutherland, and Chris Fournier who are all eligible for the 2022 NFL Draft as well. Luiji Vilain made a name for himself at Episcopal like the other Ottawa athletes that came there with him. He was listed as a 4-star recruit, was selected to play in the 2017 Under Armour All-American game and was ranked as the third overall player in the entire state of Virginia by 247Sports. Those acknowledgements led to a number of division one offers, including one from Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan Wolverines where Vilain went from the 2017 season through the 2020 season. Unfortunately things didn’t work out perfectly for him at Michigan, having suffered injuries throughout his career with the Wolverines, but he received his degree from Michigan University in 2021 and entered the transfer portal, becoming a Wake Forest Demon Deacon in late January.
Over the 2021 season with Wake Forest, Vilain has had a breakout campaign. Starting the season with a 2 tackle performance against Old Dominion, then beginning a streak of 4 consecutive games with a sack, making 3 sacks since, in the 12 games he played with Wake Forest he has been a part of 8 sacks while making a total 31 tackles, forcing and recovering a fumble and breaking up a pass. The 6-foot-4, 252 pound edge rusher will be playing in the 2021 ACC Championship on Saturday December 4th against the Pittsburgh University Panthers at the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina. Both teams finished the regular season with a 10-2 record and are each ranked in the top 25, Wake Forest at 10 and Pitt at 15, making it a must watch game for all football fans, however for family of Luiji Vilain it may not be easy to watch the entire game.
The ACC Championship game will start at 8:00 eastern, and will be televised, so access to the game shouldn’t be a problem, but the 8:00 start time will be mid-way through the Clearwater Academy International vs IMG Academy Florida independent State Championship which starts at 7:00. For most people, that sounds like a random high school football game in Florida, but for the Vilain family it is a very big game, just like the ACC Championship, because Luiji Vilain’s younger brother Alex Vilain will be playing wide receiver on Saturday for the Clearwater Academy International Knights.
Alex Vilain is in his senior season at Clearwater Academy International in Florida, and after starting his football journey in Ottawa with the Cumberland Panthers, North Gloucester Giants and St. Matthew High School Tigers, being coached by Coach Jean Guillaume and trained by Iseah Montgiraud of Limitless Era, Vilain has 160 yards and two touchdowns to his name over the two regular seasons he’s played in Florida. At 6-foot-1,185 pounds, Alex Vilain sticks out with his speed, route running and ability to use his body against the opposing defensive back. He is able to go up and get the 50/50 ball, something that he will be expected to do at the next level, but before then he will have to play his final high school football game on Saturday.
He and his Clearwater Academy International Knights, who feature a list of Canadian athletes on the roster, including Alabama commit Isaiah Hastings, will be kicking off at 7:00 against IMG Academy’s white team in the Florida Independent State Championship. The game will be available to watch live on YouTube, so tune into Alex Vilain and the CAI Knights while you get ready to watch big brother Luiji Vilain and Wake Forest.