Clemson co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott felt a little uneasy earlier this month when he was asked about Hunter Renfrow. This isn’t the time of year when the media asks about Renfrow. Those questions are usually reserved for the ACC Championship Game and the College Football Playoffs.
“I don’t like talking about Hunter this early in the year,” Scott said jokingly. “This is the first off season we have talked about Hunter. Usually we talk about him in December and in January so I’m not sure. This is new territory for him.”
It might be new territory, but it’s territory he has earned. Renfrow of course was one of the heroes in the Tigers’ come-from-behind victory over Alabama in the national championship game. He caught the game-winning touchdown pass from Deshaun Watson as well as nine other passes on that January night to lead the team in receptions, and had a 24-yard catch-and-run for another touchdown.
“Hunter has a very unique skill set,” Scott said. “Where he plays in the slot, his change of direction, his understanding of route running, understanding of defenses and just the ability to get open, I think, is what is so special about Hunter. He just fits the role that he has.”
Hunter’s role during the season is so much different than in the postseason. The redshirt junior from Myrtle Beach has played in 26 games in his career and has started 19 of them. He has 77 career catches for 987 yards and scored 11 touchdowns.
Those are good numbers, but when the postseason comes around, Renfrow’s numbers are even better. In four College Football Playoff Games, he has caught 26 passes for 289 yards and five touchdowns. He is averaging 72.3 yards per game, compared to just 38.0 yards per game in his overall career.
“As coaches we have a lot of talented guys, but it is our job, and Coach (Dabo) Swinney talks about this all the time … it is about getting the guys on the right seat on that bus,” Scott said. “I think Hunter is on the right seat. He is a perfect player and skill set for the role that he has.
“He is a coach’s son. He has grown up around it. He has a very unique ability to separate in zone coverage and man coverage and can do a lot of things. But like two years ago, when Clemson was up-and-coming and then all of sudden you have that bulls eye on your back, so it is going to be a different year for him. He is not going to sneak up on anybody this year where maybe he has the last two years.”
Scott isn’t too worried with how Renfrow is going to handle all of the success he has garnered since hauling in the game-winning pass in the national championship game. If there is anyone who can handle it and the pressure that comes with it, it’s the 5-foot-11, 180-pound receiver from Socastee High School.
“He is just such a humble young man,” Scott said. “That’s why as coaches, Coach Swinney and all the coaches on our staff—the offensive guys—you just can’t help but smile when he has success because he just represents everything you want in a young man. He is humble, hardworking, blue collar … You know, he wants to give everyone else the credit.
“Some guys you may worry about when they start having success … will they change or not? But Hunter is one of those guys that you don’t worry about one bit.”
Scott recalled an incident this past spring when he was leaving the football complex and he came upon a group of fans that were waiting outside the building wanting autographs. During the Tigers’ six-year run in which they have won at least 10 games every year, it has been common place to see fans waiting to get autographs from players like Deshaun Watson, Ben Boulware or Mike Williams.
On this night in particular, however, they were waiting on Renfrow, a former walk-on no one thought could play major college football just two years ago.
“I just kind of laughed,” Scott recalled. “Two years ago, I would have never expected that people would be waiting outside our football building to get Hunter’s autograph, but he just takes in stride and is a very humble young man. He is someone we are very proud is representing our university.”
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