Clemson football just awarded scholarships to three walk-ons, and this staff has had recent succe..."/> Clemson football just awarded scholarships to three walk-ons, and this staff has had recent succe..."/> Clemson football just awarded scholarships to three walk-ons, and this staff has had recent succe..."/>

Clemson Football Analysis: The Story of Hunter Renfrow


Clemson football just awarded scholarships to three walk-ons, and this staff has had recent success with walk-ons like current running back C.J. Davidson and Arizona Cardinals starting kicker Chandler Cantanzarro. Davidson is currently listed as the backup to starter Wayne Gallman and he had 248 yards and three touchdowns last year.

Redshirt freshman Hunter Renfrow, who walked on last year, has recently received a lot of praise from Coach Dabo Swinney and he was rewarded with a scholarship along with senior long snapper Jim Brown and junior punter Andy Teasdall.

Renfrow was a successful triple option quarterback at Socastee High in Myrtle Beach, SC where he played for his dad, Tim Renfrow from 2010-2012. Tim Renfrow decided to concentrate more on his Athletic Director position and hired Doug Illing as the new coach for 2013.

More from Rubbing the Rock

First impressions. Coach Doug Illing came to Socastee from Davie County High in Mocksville, NC and inherited a Socastee football team that was 12-1, made it to the Lower State finals, and was led by athlete Hunter Renfrow.

Illing said that he had heard a lot of good things about Renfrow and they were all true. Illing elaborates, “He’s a great athlete on the field but an even better person. You don’t realize the player that he is or the competitor until you see him in person. He practices hard and everything, but there is nothing like when he straps those buckles on. He’s got a competitive spirit that I haven’t seen anybody have.”

Hunter was named All State as an athlete in 2013 and represented South Carolina in the annual All Star Shrine Bowl game. Subsequently, he received scholarship offers from Furman, Wofford, Presbyterian, Appalachian State, and Gardner Webb.

No major D1 love. Even after all his accolades, Hunter didn’t receive any major division 1 offers.

Why? Maybe because he stood 5’11 and weighed 170 pounds or maybe the triple option offense that he ran at Socastee kept the big boys questioning his abilities. According to Coach Illing, both were contributing factors along with his appearance. Illing explains, “The big guys weren’t convinced that he could play wide receiver or defensive back. He looks like one of the assistant trainers. He doesn’t wow anyone when he walks into the room and he couldn’t pass the eye test.”

Renfrow had it in his heart that he could play at the highest level so he didn’t want to waste anybody’s time on visits. But he did become intrigued with Appalachian State and its’ football program, so he took a visit.

Feeling orange. Renfrow knew where he wanted to go and the Appalachian State visit helped him realize that his feelings were right. He wanted to be a Clemson Tiger. He wanted to challenge himself and knew down deep that he could play Division 1 football. He visited Clemson on Jan. 24 and committed on Jan. 30th. Coach Illing on Hunter’s decision to walk-on at Clemson:

"I supported him 100%, I wasn’t going to be the one laying my head on that pillow and the one paying the bill. I encouraged him to get out there and visit, go meet the coaches, go do tours, go see a game. It will hit you in the face-where you want to go, and what you want to do. His faith is very strong and he believes that God has a plan for him. I think he followed his heart, faith, and did it. Down deep that is where he wanted to go.We had a long talk and I tried to help him realize what the walk-on life was like. Everybody can promise you this and promise you that, but once you get into it-people tend to treat you different as a walk-on. You go from being a star player, a big fish in a big pond in high school and you get to college and you’re a little fish, a walk-on, and neglected. I said mentally it would challenge him."

It takes one to know one. If there is anyone who knows the perils of being a walk-on , then it’s Dabo Swinney. Coach Swinney walked on the Alabama football team in 1989, earned a scholarship, and lettered as a wide receiver from 1990-92. During Renfrow’s visit, he shared his story and his experiences with him and his parents.

More from Clemson Football

WR-Who? After redshirting in 2014, Hunter has settled in at the wide receiver position on a team that is currently in a debate with Tennessee over which school is WR-U. You would think it would be hard to be noticed as a walk-on on a team with maybe the best collection of receivers in the country.

Hunter Renfrow has done just that and he has not only caught the attention of his coaches but also the respect of fellow receivers
and the Clemson defensive backs. He has gone head to head with what Swinney calls the best secondary that he has had since being head coach. Even Mackensie Alexander, one of the best cornerbacks in the country has been victimized by Renfrow. Coach Illing on Renfrow,

"I think he was able to persevere and understand that he had to bide his time, and wait for his opportunities to prove himself. He held strong and did whatever they asked of him. I knew and we all knew that people were missing out, and it wouldn’t take long for him to prove that he could play. People just had to get him between those lines and see the competitiveness.He’s an athlete and his game speed is phenomenal. It took time to practice the skills as a receiver and learn how to run routes. He’s a coachable kid and he catches on."

Most Clemson fans know the name, Hunter Renfrow now and are ready to see if he can continue his stellar practice performances and also transfer them to game days and nights.

He still looks like a trainer, but now weighs slightly over 170 pounds, and is now also a scholarship receiver/punter. His belief in himself never wavered and he will have every opportunity to earn his scholarship again for next season.

Coach Illing gives Swinney and his staff all the credit for giving Renfrow a chance and for them being able to see his possible future development and knowing that they could use him.

And for the teams that passed on him, Illing states, “A bunch of them will regret it because he’s going to burn a bunch of them.”

Next: Clemson Football: Uniform Thoughts