UM's Quebec import St-Juste inherits dad's football IQ

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
New Michigan recruits, from left, Ambry Thomas, Ben Mason, J'Marick Woods, Jaylen Kelly-Powell and Benjamin St.-Juste are introduced during the "Signing of the Stars" event.

Ann Arbor — In the land of hockey, Benjamin St-Juste was an anomaly.

The Michigan early enrollee freshman cornerback naturally played hockey growing up in Quebec, but he turned to football because his father had played and loved the game. While some of his other Cegep Du Vieux teammates in Montreal also received Division I football scholarships, his turned the most heads back home.

“I was that kid that’s going to a big-time school and everybody was looking up to me, the kids from my hometown (saying), ‘Yeah, he’s going to Michigan, that doesn’t happen like every year.’ That was great. Seeing a kid going to play college Division I football at Michigan, that was big.”

St-Juste is 6-foot-3, 188 pounds and rated four stars as a cornerback. He learned much of what he knows about football from his father, Wilbert St-Juste.

“My dad was really good at football,” St-Juste said Wednesday after Michigan’s “Signing of the Stars” program. “He was on the Miami Hurricane team in 1989 and he ended up getting injured so he didn’t play. My dad really wants me to play football. He helped me all my life train and get the dream he didn’t have. Right now he’s really proud of me. That’s the reason why I’m here right now because of him.”

Ruiz relishes chance to be UM's center of attention

St-Juste, whose first language is French, said he feels comfortable at Michigan.

“That feeling of home, that feeling of family, that’s the reason why I’m here now,” he said. “A lot of schools were offering me a bunch of stuff like playing time, but you want to wake up in the morning feeling comfortable where you’re at. Michigan offered that. You feel like you’re home, you feel like a family. That’s what was great about Michigan.”

Because he attended a CEGEP, which in Quebec is essentially the first step toward post-secondary education and offers academic prep for university work, St-Juste said he already feels acclimated to college.

“It’s really not different,” he said. The only thing is the language, it’s all French, so I had to adapt to the language (at Michigan). But the schedule, the courses, I’ve adapted quickly. I was training with some good trainers and they prepared me to train for college football. I was already used to a bit of college life.”

St-Juste said the coaches have not discussed moving him, and he is set to play cornerback.

“They want that length I can offer, that big body I can offer,” he said.

Twitter: @chengelis