High School Sports

He’s a hero to Clemson fans. But back home, Renfrow finds it good ‘just to be Hunter’

Life has changed a lot for Clemson wide receiver and former Socastee standout Hunter Renfrow since catching the game-winning touchdown of the college football National Championship Game in January.
Life has changed a lot for Clemson wide receiver and former Socastee standout Hunter Renfrow since catching the game-winning touchdown of the college football National Championship Game in January. AP

Not all heroes wear capes.

In the eyes of Clemson football fans, one may as well be attached to the collar of Hunter Renfrow.

Able under most circumstances to retrieve items from the convenience store without being seen, such has proven mighty tough in the months since his game-winning catch in January, securing the Tigers’ victory over Alabama in the National Championship Game.

“It’s funny, a week or so after we returned from the National Championship Game, I made a trip to the store just to buy some deodorant,” he said. “Something that should be a quick in-and-out deal, no more than five minutes at most turned into me 45 minutes later signing copies of Sports Illustrated at someone’s car.”

An enlarged version of that Sports Illustrated cover, among other photos now adorn the halls of Renfrow’s alma mater, Socastee High School. While certainly a hero among the Braves faithful, the Clemson football standout is thankful when among them to “just be Hunter.”

On the grind for much of the past year with the mission of winning a national championship, the local hero is home for a few weeks before starting the process with his Tiger teammates of claiming another.

In the time given, Renfrow has done his best to make the most of his time, spending time with friends and family over a few rounds of golf, as well as accepting an award for his athletic achievements from the Horry County School Board.

It’s funny, a week or so after we returned from the National Championship Game, I made a trip to the store just to buy some deodorant. Something that should be a quick in-and-out deal, no more than five minutes at most turned into me 45 minutes later signing copies of Sports Illustrated at someone’s car.

Clemson wide receiver and former Socastee football standout Hunter Renfrow

“It’s just been fun, a good time coming back home to see family,” he said. “The support Myrtle Beach has shown me has been overwhelming, particularly at Socastee. Everyone there is family to me.

“For them, I’m not Clemson football player Hunter Renfrow. To them, I am Hunter Renfrow, the guy that went to school (at Socastee).”

A former walk-on, Renfrow’s work ethic and play-making ability earned him a full athletic scholarship to Clemson. In two years at the school, he has 77 receptions for 987 yards and 11 touchdowns.

In addition to capturing the heart of Clemson faithful, football coach Dabo Swinney also holds him in high regard, claiming the former Socastee standout reminds him a lot of himself.

“He definitely does not have better hands than I did, but he’s faster. But (I’d probably compare most with) Hunter just because he’s a little undersized,” Swinney said during a press conference this past season. “He’s probably about 175, and I was probably 180 when I was playing. You know, he’s tough as nails, maybe kind of surprises people a little bit from time to time.

“… I think (Renfrow) is a guy, too, that takes pride in his relationships with everybody on the team, and that was something I always took pride in as a player. I loved my teammates, and I loved getting to know everybody, and really he’s a guy that very comfortable in who he is.”

Renfrow holds equal regard for the Clemson football coach, claiming he is as good a person on the field as he is off of it.

“Being compared to him even in the slightest bit is a great honor,” the Clemson wide receiver and former Socastee standout said. “(Swinney) definitely wants to win. But he also knows his life is not judged by what is on the scoreboard at the end of a game, but by being a great man off of it. His relationship with Christ means all the more.”

Much like his coach, Renfrow is very open about his faith and belief in Jesus Christ. In the months since his iconic touchdown catch, the local product has done a lot of thinking about how his own influence can be used for God’s glory.

“A relationship with Christ means more than anything,” he said. “There are far more important things than a football game.”

I think (Renfrow) is a guy, too, that takes pride in his relationships with everybody on the team, and that was something I always took pride in as a player. I loved my teammates, and I loved getting to know everybody, and really he’s a guy that very comfortable in who he is.

Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney

By his count, dozens of churches throughout the Palmetto State have sought to book him for speaking engagements. While there will surely be a time for that, Renfrow is using the present as an opportunity recharge his batteries in preparation for the long haul to come.

“We started spring ball only a few weeks after winning the national championship, so this time off is definitely a good thing,” he said. “But I’m looking forward to getting started back up in summer workouts. We lost some great players, but there are plenty others who still remain.

“This is not about defending a championship, though. This is about going out and getting another one.”

Joe L. Hughes II: 843-444-1702, @JoeLHughesII

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