Family ties, determination draws 3 to Vert & Or

Sherbrooke adds three Québec commits to their Class of 2018.

There is a theme that unites quarterback Jesse Swennen from Cégep Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, defensive back Hugues Fortin-Côté from Collège Lionel-Groulx and linebacker Raphael Dionne from Cégep de Lévis-Lauzon, all three are looking to prove themselves with the University of Sherbrooke Vert & Or.

Jesse Swennen

Courtesy of Jesse Swennen.

When the new season starts, Jesse Swennen will be coming in with a sense of purpose and a whole lot of determination. “I feel I kind of went under the radar throughout my college career because I was behind (QB) Dimitri Morand for two of my three years and had an up-and-down season,” Swennen said. “I feel like I have a lot to prove.”

So, when it came to finding a university, Swennen said he feels he can take his game to the next level with the Vert & Or. “It was the perfect fit for me,” he said of the school. “Since day one, I felt I would get along perfectly with Offensive Coordinator Brent Bailey and he is the guy I will be spending most of my time with.”

He added that the coaching staff is dynamic, passionate and has many projects for the next five years.

It was much more than football, however, that drew Swennen to Sherbrooke. “The region fits well with me because it is in touch with nature and I love to spend time in nature,” he said.

Academically, the potential finance student felt the program’s coop option suited his interests. “I love the fact that you get to practice what you learn in an actual work field,” he said.

Standing at 6’4, 210lbs, Swennen played for Les Asterix Jean-Jacques-Bertrand (RSEQ) in high school. His cégep career was with Les Géants du Cégep St-Jean-sur-Richelieu (RSEQ Division 1). He is from Stanbridge Station, which is close to the Vermont border.

Hugues Fortin-Côté

Courtesy of Hugues Fortin-Côté.

Hugues Fortin-Côté has been playing with a chip on his shoulder since he was overlooked in his final season of high school ball. “I was never scouted or approached to play collegial football and I made everyone regret (this) by making the all-star team in my second year, which was my first as a starter,” he said.

He wasn’t passed over by the Sherbrooke Vert & Or, however. His play was impressive enough to catch the eye of their recruiters. “The coaching staff is really friendly and almost all of them are ex Vert & Or players,” Fortin-Côté said. He added he is looking forward to working with ex-CFLer Kevin Regimbald, the team’s defensive back coach.

For the 6’2, 175lbs halfback, Sherbrooke was a solid choice. He said he chose the university because of “the reputation of the school and the chance to play quickly and made a difference.”

Starting at the tender age of six, Fortin-Côté has always had supporters in the stands. Coming from Blainville, Québec, he said, “Despite the distance from Repentigny, where I live, my parents will be at every game like they were since I was six.”

In high school, he played with high school ball at Collège Boisbriand. His cégep career was spent with Les Nordiques du Collège Lionel-Groulx (RSEQ Division 2). He is a two-time all-star and D2 Bol d’Or champion. He is interested in taking a program regarding management or business.

Raphael Dionne

Raphael Dionne (left) and his brother, Olivier (right.) Courtesy of Raphael Dionne.

If Raphael Dionne was looking for insider information about the Vert & Or, he didn’t have to look any further than across the dinner table. “This will be the first time that I will play with my brother at university,” he said.

“I chose this school because the values it transmits are what I searched for,” Dionne added. “I already feel that I’m part of the family. This school makes great athletes. I thought the coaching staff was best for me. I feel that I’m already at home.”

Dionne, who is interested in kinesiology, played high school football with Les Wisigoths du Collège Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pocatière. He won an interregional final and was named as the hardest hitter and most valuable player. In the cégep circuit, he suited up for Les Faucons du Cégep de Lévis-Lauzon (RESQ Division 1) where he finished with the most tackles. He is 5’10, 215lbs and is from Saint-Pascal, Québec.

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