Benjamin St-Juste Recruited by Jim Harbaugh’s University of Michigan Wolverines

Then San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh stood along the sidelines and watched his then quarterback, Colin Kaepernick throws a ball to his intended receiver, only for the ball to be batted down by Richard Sherman, a cornerback of the Seattle Seahawks who has a height of six foot three, and to eventually be intercepted by his teammate. The 49ers went on to lose that game to the eventual Super Bowl champions.

Harbaugh seemingly understood from that point on that tall cornerbacks are a key to success. After signing and drafting numerous cornerbacks six feet and up, and when Harbaugh took over as head coach of the University of Michigan Wolverines in Dec. 2014, he brought that philosophy with him. For the upcoming season, Harbaugh hasn’t wavered on that mindset, and has even found a prospect north of the border.

The Wolverines recently recruited Benjamin St. Juste, who stands at six foot three, just like Sherman, and most recently played football for CEGEP du Vieux Montreal. His size and athleticism is what drew Michigan, and according to St. Juste, they’ve offered him a full scholarship to play.

“It starts with his length,” said Brandon Brown, a Michigan writer and recruiting specialist for “At six-foot-three inches he does not look like a cornerback but he moves like someone much smaller. He runs extremely well and seems to have good footwork and hip agility for someone as tall as him.

St. Juste’s road to Michigan began when he attended Michigan’s Exposure U football camp in June of 2015. The camp, held on the campus of the University of Michigan, was geared towards high school football prospects.

“I practiced for the first day, and I practiced for the second day and I see that the coaches started showing interest in me,” said St-Juste.

“They started liking me and talking to me more. On the third day, they said ‘look, kid, you’re really great. You have what it takes to be a Michigan player, and we’re offering you a full scholarship.’”

Michigan had everything Benjamin wanted. He committed just a few days later.

His commitment sent Michigan fans as well as national writers into a frenzy. Who is Benjamin St-Juste?

“Michigan was and is his only offer so the level of his entire recruitment is not what we’re used to seeing for a future Michigan football player,” said Brown. “St-Juste was a complete unknown but he showed up at Michigan’s camp last summer and was as good as any prospect in attendance.”

Before long, the major recruiting sites, such as,, and, created their player profiles on the new Michigan commit, and they all agreed that he ought to be rated a three star,out of five, prospect.

“I’d say he’s fairly rated,” said Garrett Fishaw, owner and managing editor of Michigan blog “He’s only been seen in person a couple times and doesn’t have a ton of game film.”

“The film that is out there, is against lower competition but he dominates so I’d have him as a three-star prospect as well until he has more tape against the top talent in the class.”

The Wolverines signed the aforementioned Long as well as Detroit native Lavert Hill, two highly regarded cornerback recruits in the class of 2016 and are likely not done at the position in the class of 2017. Benjamin knows he’ll have to compete once he does enrol at Michigan.

“I’m looking forward to competing with them [Long and Hill],” said St-Juste. “We’re going to be friends on the team, but when we practice, we’re trying to play and compete.”

St-Juste isn’t the first athlete from the CEGEP system to go play college sports in the States. For American coaches, finding a good cegep athlete is great. Firstly, they receive far less exposure than American athletes do which means there won’t as much competition for them in recruiting. Basically, it means that when you find a good one, you will probably be able to get them.

Secondly, they come with one or two more years of football experience than American high schoolers do. They usually enrol at 19 or 20 years old instead of 18 years old, meaning they come in more physically and mentally developed. Despite that, they have the same eligibility as Americans do; five years to play four seasons. To American coaches, cegep recruits are gems.

Michigan, particularly, has had a good amount of success with CEGEP prospects in the past. Punter Eddie Azscona, tight end Deitan Dubuc and defensive lineman Renaldo Sagesse all come from the CEGEP system and all had success at Michigan. Dubuc even got to play alongside a certain quarterback named Tom Brady.

One of the most famous CEGEP players to play at Michigan and arguably, the most successful Canadian College athlete ever, is former Carolina Panthers Running back, Tim Biakabutuka.

Biakabutuka, played at Vanier College before becoming a Wolverine in 1993. His 313 yard performance against arch rival Ohio State in 1995 remains the second highest single game yardage total in the 136 years of Michigan football. He was drafted eighth overall in the 1996 National Football League Draft.

Still, there are athletes from the CEGEP system that go play American college football every season. And, every year, there are guys that are good enough to go, but just never get noticed because they play further away. Despite the success of some in the past, the perception of every CEGEP football prospect is that they have less talent and grew up playing against weaker competition.

While that may or not be the case, it is worth mentioning that most CEGEP football players will, at least, get the opportunity to play Canadian Interuniversity Sports football. Obviously, American college football is much better, but CIS football is nothing to scoff at. Especially considering most will play for a Reseau de Sports Etudiants du Quebec (RSEQ) school – the best conference in Canada.

Benjamin St-Juste is heading off to do something a number of people have done before, and have had success with. For someone who is said to have plenty of talent and athleticism, he will never be regarded as the American players are, and that’s ok. Benjamin’s dream was to play in the NCAA. He realized that dream.

“I wanted to play in the States,” said St-Juste. “It was my dream. I went to the Exposure U camp to improve my game. When I got the offer, it didn’t take me long to realize that my dream had come true.”

The CEGEP system might not produce an incredible amount of NCAA talent, but it has sent some notable players to big programs. The six-foot-three inches cornerback knows he will have to work a harder once he does get to Michigan, but the chance to get to play for an NFL caliber coach at a historic program is too much to pass up. Now, he will work to give CEGEP athletes the respect they deserve. He has the tools to accomplish that.

“There’s always something about you being Canadian. I’m going to try my best to be at the same level as the Americans,” said St-Juste. “But, I’ll always be a proud Canadian, because I know lots of us here are good enough to play there.”

As for Jim Harbaugh, no matter how far he had to go to find him, he now has the Richard Sherman type cornerback he covets.

Review: Lil’ Yachty’s on a Lil’ Boat »

« PBHT 53: The JMSM / Kate Beirness Edition