It is almost difficult to believe Hunter Renfrow began his Clemson career as a walk on. As the fifth-ranked Tigers get set to start a new season on Saturday against Kent State, the junior wide receiver is transitioning from underdog to the veteran leader of the offense.
Renfrow’s heroism in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game and his performance in the 2016 Championship Game cemented his place is Clemson lore for generations to come.
However, Renfrow is not complacent and is looking to up his game this season.
Last year, Renfrow made 11 starts, proving himself as a major contributor at wide receiver. His 44 catches for 495 yards and 6 touchdowns earned him fifth on the team for yards and fourth in touchdown receptions.
In 2017, Renfrow looks to up his game statistically and to lead the young and talented Clemson wide receiving core.
“Those guys are extremely talented and we have to develop that raw talent into a first-round pick” said Renfrow. “It’s cool to lead them through my experience and perspectives being here for two years.”
This year ‘Wide Receiver U’ returns experience in Deon Cain, Ray-Ray McCloud, Trevion Thompson and Renfrow. That experience is coupled with the youth and talent with the likes of Amari Rogers, Tee Higgins, Cornell Powell, T.J. Chase and Diondre Overton.
Throughout camp fellow coaches and players identified Renfrow as the leader of that unit. The junior has not shied away from his leadership opportunity, rather he has embraced it.
“I’ve been there and I can help those younger guys along” he said.
The Myrtle Beach native also strives to “be a voice of experience” for the talented underclassmen.
The former walk-on is now the veteran leader of the defending national champions. This season Renfrow will undoubtedly be highlighted in opposing scouting reports and on pregame shows before every game.
He is no stranger to the spotlight and is itching to get on the field to show the Tiger faithful and the nation what he and this Clemson offense are capable of. Saturday’s game will also mark the celebration of the title game with the revel of the new signage in Memorial Stadium commemorating the win and spawning memories of his game-winning catch in the end zone to take down Alabama.
However, Renfrow is eager to turn the page on last season and start fresh with the 2017 campaign.
“We are ready to get over the hump of last year. This is a new team” he said.
The junior is also eager “to get back in front of our fans who are some of the best in the country and play hard for them.”
Saturday the Tigers will get an opportunity to showcase their freshness and start the new season with a bang. The Clemson offense, riddled with question marks, will reveal their new identity.
In the meantime, fans reminisce on that game in January, Renfrow’s reception, and their identity as champions. But on Saturday, at 12:02 p.m., Clemson hits reset.