Why UNC football’s Patrice Rene showed up to camp in a hard hat and orange safety vest

As Patrice Rene walked into the Hyatt Hotel in Chapel Hill for fall camp move-in day last Thursday, he wore a white hard hat, a bright orange safety vest, goggles and a CAT hat attached to his Jordan Brand book bag.

He looked like a construction worker.

“All work,” he said, showing his outfit to a camera recording him.

As the Tar Heels prepare for the 2019 football season, Rene, a 6-2, 208-pound senior cornerback from Ontario, Canada, says he’s all about business.

Rene came up with the idea to dress up after watching some of his favorite NFL players do the same for their training camps. He bought most of his outfit at Walmart and some of it at Lowe’s.

Rene said by dressing up as a construction worker, he was trying to send a message to his teammates that he’s not there to mess around.

“I had a different attitude,” Rene said Saturday. “It’s all work, no play. This is the last one, so this is all or nothing for me.”

Still, his teammates couldn’t help but laugh.

UNC cornerback Patrice Rene wears a hard hat with an orange vest and goggles he purchased from Walmart and Lowe’s to move-in day for fall camp. UNC Athletics Photo courtesy of UNC Athletics

“Trice’s outfit?!” UNC junior safety Myles Wolfolk said, as he busted out laughing. “Man, he surprised me. I did not expect that. First of all, he was the last DB, so we knew he had something going on.”

“But nah, I liked it. It was real swag. He’s not telling no lies. It’s all work, all camp. We’re rude, we’re going to work.”

Rene emerged as UNC’s top cornerback last season. He started all 11 games, had seven pass deflections, two interceptions and a fumble recovery in 2018. He progressed throughout the season.

For 2019, though, he wants to be even better. He’ll be tasked with taking on each opponents’ best receiver. Rene said his goals are to be named first-team All-ACC, win every game and have success.

“As long as the team wins, I’m doing good, it’ll be a good year for me,” Rene said.

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Antonio Williams can speak to birds?

Rene wasn’t the only player who caught his teammates’ attention upon arriving at camp.

Antonio Williams, a senior running back, brought his two finches, Rita and Spear. UNC senior tight end Carl Tucker said Williams can make his birds be quiet on command.

“They were chirping and it was 10 o’clock at night, and he tapped on the cage,” Tucker said, demonstrating the tapping movement, “and said, ‘Y’all need to go to bed,’ and they stopped chirping.”

UNC wide receivers ‘looking good’

When asked which wide receivers have impressed him most, UNC senior safety Myles Dorn said it was junior wide receiver Rontavius ‘Toe’ Groves.

Groves, who is 5-11, 195 pounds, missed most of his first two seasons with separate knee injuries. He played in nine games in 2018 and had 10 catches for 183 yards and a touchdown.

“He’s been going at it,” Dorn said. “Toe is one, Dyami (Brown) has been looking good. Everybody has been looking good and smooth. Everybody is faster. Shout out to Coach (Brian) Hess. He’s been pushing speed and you can see it on the field.”

Full pads practice

On Tuesday, the players will put on full pads for the first time since practice started. They wore shells over the weekend and on Monday, but remained in shorts.

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Jonathan M. Alexander has been covering the North Carolina Tar Heels since May 2018. He previously covered Duke basketball and recruiting in the ACC. He is an alumnus of N.C. Central University.
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