Clemson’s Hunter Renfrow is a wide receiver by trade, but he is willing to play wherever his team needs him. Just take his conversation with co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott last week at practice for example.
The team had just discussed how it would be without senior cornerback Mark Fields for the Syracuse game due to a disciplinary reason, when Scott approached Renfrow in the indoor practice facility and asked if he could be a backup quarterback.
Senior Kelly Bryant had decided to transfer after freshman Trevor Lawrence was named the starter earlier in the week, and the Tigers needed Renfrow — who played quarterback in high school — to help provide depth at the position.
Renfrow, though, thought Scott was asking him if he could help out at cornerback — and he was open to it.
“We were sitting over there, and he came up to me. We had just talked about how Mark Fields wasn’t playing this week, and for some reason, I was in that mentality… I wasn’t even thinking about Kelly just left,” Renfrow said Tuesday. “And he was like, ‘Alright, can you serve as a backup?’ and this sort of deal. And I was like ‘Yeah,’ and I started explaining how obviously I know what the coverages are – I know Cover 4, Cover 2 – Cover 2, just play outside leverage. It was kind of loud in here, so you couldn’t really hear much. It wasn’t a fluid conversation, and he kind of looked at me weird.
“So, we go through practice and he wants me to get some reps in RVA (reps vs. air) throwing the ball, and that’s when I started piecing it together that he meant quarterback.”
Indeed, Renfrow is a part of Clemson’s quarterback room now that Bryant is no longer with the program.
In fact, Renfrow wondered if he might have to play quarterback in Clemson’s game against Syracuse last Saturday after Lawrence suffered an injury in the first half and was replaced by redshirt freshman Chase Brice.
“I didn’t know if I was going to go in the game at quarterback,” Renfrow said. “Whenever Trevor got hurt, I was wondering… I was like, if something happens to Chase, am I going in? I really didn’t know. No one really talked to me. So, I was ready.”
Renfrow, who played quarterback at Socastee High School (Myrtle Beach, S.C.), joked that he thought the stars were aligning for him to enter the game at quarterback vs. Syracuse.
“It wasn’t funny when Trevor went down, but it was like, ‘Oh, I might actually have to go in there,’” Renfrow said. “But I wouldn’t have had to do much. I would have just had to hand the ball off to Travis (Etienne), and it might have worked out. Who knows.”
Along with Lawrence and Brice, Renfrow and true freshman Ben Batson have been getting reps at quarterback in practice.
“A little bit,” Renfrow said when asked how many reps he’s gotten. “Trevor was back. He played well and practiced. But really for me, it’s just mental reps, just making sure I can go out there and function, I can hand the ball off to Travis and do a few things.”
Since the middle of last week when Bryant left the program, Renfrow has split time between being in the quarterback meetings and receiver meetings, and said he has gained a greater appreciation for what it takes to play the quarterback position at the college level.
“Last week, I was trying to learn all this stuff, and they have so much going on,” Renfrow said. “They have to say the protection, they have to read this, read that… So, it’s an appreciation for me playing receiver. All I have to do is just run one route. I don’t have to worry about anything else. All I have to run is a (route), so I can do that to the best of my ability and it’s freeing. They have a lot to deal with that I didn’t realize at times.”
Renfrow doesn’t know if he will have to play quarterback in a game this season but says he will be ready to do so if his number is called.
“My baseball coach in high school would always talk about ‘the best ability in life is availability’ and just being available for whatever happens and just keeping those doors open,” he said. “So for me, just being able to help the team in any way I can. I’m just appreciating my senior season. Whatever comes after will come after. But if I can play QB, go play DB, go punt… It doesn’t matter to me. Just being able to help the team and enjoy the moment.”