Hunter Renfrow a microcosm of Clemson Tigers’ evolution
We used to jokingly refer to Hunter Renfrow as “Hunter Football.”
Colleagues and I gave him the moniker when he was an option quarterback at Socastee High School right around the time Johnny Manziel — aka Johnny Football — was running and slinging the football at Texas A&M and grabbing national attention.
On a smaller level, Renfrow was similarly awing everyone. He brought a Braves football program back to life, accumulating 5,305 all-purpose yards and 61 touchdowns in three seasons while leading Socastee to a 27-5 overall record and five playoff victories.
Times were tough for Braves football before Renfrow arrived. They’ve been similarly lackluster since he departed for Clemson as well.
He indeed was a difference-maker.
Fast-forward to his career at Clemson and, despite joining as a walk-on while passing on offers to smaller schools, he once again proved to be a force. In four seasons — in which he transitioned from option QB to slot receiver — he caught 186 passes for 2,133 yards and 15 touchdowns while winning two national championships.
Now the question many are asking themselves is: Can the minuscule 5-foot-10, 180-pounder be a factor at the highest of all levels — the NFL?
It’s certain Renfrow will wind up on an NFL roster this weekend, whether it’s via being drafted or joining as an unsigned free agent. Most projections have him being drafted in the fourth through seventh rounds, which all come Saturday.
Surely there’s teams on both sides of the spectrum when it comes to his evaluation. Some probably discount his relative small frame, while others likely will focus on his quickness, smarts, good hands and precision route running.
According to NFL.com, Renfrow graded at 5.50, which in the league’s equation means he’s got a chance to become an NFL starter.
“Renfrow is a reliable, sure-handed slot receiver who lacks size and speed but creates catch opportunities for himself by varying route speed and running highly focused routes,” his NFL.com combine evaluation reads. “His lack of vertical push will have nickel cornerbacks looking to smother him before he can get out of the gates, but his ball skills and ability to handle contested catches could make him a mid-round draft selection and early NFL contributor.”
So essentially the combine proved what we already knew about the guy. However, what’s allowed Renfrow to succeed over the years has been his intangibles.
The guy has a will to win and a desire to improve. You can’t say that about all NFL prospects — including many who will hear their names called long before Renfrow does during this week’s draft, which runs Thursday (first round), Friday (second and third) and Saturday (rounds 4 through 7).
From all accounts, Renfrow is a good guy, a model citizen. He’s the type of person — let alone player — you can root for.
He’s been stereotypically linked to the New England Patriots and that’s for good reason. Renfrow has all the traits that shout “Patriots.” However, only time will tell when and to whom he’s drafted.
Two things are for sure: For one, many, including myself, will be looking on with excitement awaiting his name being called. Two, an NFL team will be lucky to have him.
Good luck, Hunter Football.