McGill taps local recruiting pool

McGill adds two local commits to their Class of 2018.

Defensive linemen Dante Rienzo from Upper Canada College and PJ Schembre from John Abbott College will be calling the city of Montréal home for the next four to five years after signing with McGill.

Dante Rienzo

While there are many reasons that drew Dante Rienzo to McGill, the first and foremost was his primary point of contact, the coaches. He said that from the start of the recruiting process, the coaches were very welcoming, and he knew they were on the same page.

“The way the coaching staff has each week organized is perfect for me and the way the coaching staff intends to use me in the future is exactly what I was looking for. They were always there to answer any questions I had and most importantly, they believe in me and what I can offer the football program and the university,” Rienzo said.

Rienzo intends on taking business at the Desautels Faculty of Management, which he said is one of the top business schools in Canada.

“Since our first conversation, Head Coach Hilaire always stressed how academics is the most important part in choosing a university because one day or another everyone’s football career will come to an end and so, once that happens, we must rely on our academic degrees to succeed in life,” Rienzo said.

Originally from Laval, Québec, Rienzo played with the Loyola High School Warriors (Greater Montreal Athletic Association) before moving out of province to play with the Upper Canada College Blues (Conference of Independent Schools Athletics Association). “Playing and studying at McGill would mean that I will be living in my hometown after being away in Toronto for a couple years,” he said.

“McGill is where I feel most comfortable and I believe it is the school and football program where I will be able to excel the most,” he added.

In his sporting career, Rienzo was successful in both hockey and football. In 2014, he was the Warriors’ bantam MVP. Two years later, he won the Father Casey award for leadership in juvenile hockey. He was also a QIHL juvenile hockey champion with Loyola. In football, Rienzo, who is 6’2, 245lbs, was named as the most valuable lineman for the Warriors in 2015. He received the same award with the Blues last season. In 2015, he won a RSEQ championship with Loyola. The following year, he and the Blues were CISAA champions.

“I would like to thank everyone who has helped me on this journey, most notably my family and friends, but, also my coaches who have helped me get to the next level. This includes Coach Lafave from Loyola and Coach Brown, Heffernan, Mohtadi and Verbroom from UCC,” Rienzo said. “Lastly, I’d like to thank Coach Hilaire and the coaching staff for believing in me and giving me this incredible opportunity to play for McGill.”

PJ Schembre

PJ Schembre is currently living in Saint-Anne-de-Bellevue, Québec, which is an off-island suburb of Montréal. He played with the John Abbott College Islanders (RSEQ Division 1) as a defensive tackle and nose guard. He is 6’1, 285lbs.

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