Renfrow comes full circle before making run at NFL

The past six months have been hectic ones for Hunter Renfrow, and things are about to get even busier for the former Socastee High and Clemson University football standout.

After helping the Tigers claim their third national championship, the second during his record-setting college career, Renfrow took part in the Senior Bowl, awards banquets, the NFL Combine and NFL Draft.

Oh, and the Myrtle Beach native also found time to marry high school and college sweetheart, Camilla Martin, before before the wide receiver was selected in the fifth round by the Oakland (soon to be Las Vegas) Raiders.

“It has been a whirlwind, but it’s been the time of my life though,” Renfrow said Monday during a brief trip home. “I’ve gotten to experience things that I would never have gotten to experience if it wasn’t for football.”

Renfrow returned to his high school alma mater Monday to host his youth football camp and hold an autograph session to raise money for the Socastee Braves Booster Club. The group showed its appreciation by unveiling a monument in his honor.

“It has kind of come full circle for me because I grew up going to Socastee High School football camp on those same fields,” recalled Renfrow, who led the Braves to their only undefeated regular season as a senior quarterback.

“A lot of those same coaches that were helping coach today coached me and taught me everything I know about football and life. It was cool to be able to kind of pass that on.”

Renfrow’s “Rudy”-esque story of an undersized walk-on who won a full scholarship and the 2016 national championship with a last-second touchdown catch against Alabama. He backed it up with another national title in 2018, capping his college career as Clemson’s all-time leader in consecutive games with a reception (43) and starts at his position (47).

“I don’t think I overachieve,” said Renfrow, who won the Burlsworth Trophy as the nation’s top former walk-on and the Fellowship of Christian Athlete’s Bobby Bowden Award in his senior year. “The media and everyone else thinks I overachieve. I’m just doing what I’ve always tried to do.”

Next up is another monumental challenge for the 5-foot-10, 185-pound rookie, who still has to earn a spot on the Raiders’ 45-man roster despite signing a four-year deal worth nearly $3 million. He reports to training camp in Napa Valley, Calif., July 23, along with fellow Clemson teammates and Oakland draftees Clelin Ferrell and Trayvon Mullen.

His former Tiger teammates might already be believers, but Renfrow knows he has to prove himself all over again with the veterans and head coach Jon Gruden. The two formed a relationship while Gruden was coaching Renfrow in the Senior Bowl, but the rookie will have to battle the likes of Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams for playing time and targets.

“There’s a lot more cussing with Coach Gruden, but sometimes you need to be yelled at a little more,” Renfrow said. “(Clemson coach Dabo) Swinney would chew you out. I haven’t spent a full season with him so there’s a lot that I have to learn, but they’re very similar in that they know what it takes to win and they really care about their players.”

Renfrow is preparing for the rigors of training camp, including the rookie ritual of singing in front of the veterans. Renfrow is leaning toward the Bill Withers’ classic “Lean On Me” (look for it on the upcoming season of HBO’s “Hard Knocks”), but that’s not the performance he’s focused on.

“There’s always fear when you do something new. There’s always that fear of the unknown,” Renfrow admitted. “… The excitement factor comes in where you want to go prove yourself again.”

For all the activity of the past few months, it’s the future ones that will determine his success at football’s highest level.

Photos by Janet Morgan/myhorrynews

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