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Renner in Retrospect

By Matt Paul Posted November 6, 2013 at 12:19 pm

If one were to grade Bryn Renner as a college quarterback, a B- would seem about right.

Renner, the fifth-year senior who likely played his final down with the Tar Heels after injuring his shoulder in Saturday’s win over NC State, surely had his ups and downs in Chapel Hill.

The injury, which came on a five-yard scramble/slide late in the third quarter as he was hit by N.C. State’s Monty Nelson, fell in the latter department.

“It doesn’t feel too good at first when it’s kind of hanging out,” Renner told reporters, mentioning he injured the same shoulder in high school. “I can’t explain it. Once it gets back in, it feels a lot better… I thought it kind of just slid out of place like it has before, but it was kind of hanging after.”

Looking back, the positives include finishing his Tar Heel career with 8,221 passing yards, good for 20th in ACC history, while placing third in passing yards, second in passing touchdowns (64), third in completions (668) and first in completion percentage (66.5) at UNC. A prolific passer at his best, Renner also posted the top two single season touchdown pass totals (2011 and 2012), and the school record for most career 300-yard passing games.

Had Renner opted to make himself eligible for the NFL Draft after his junior season, however, his “grade” likely rises into the B or perhaps even B+ range. Renner, after all, led the bowl-ineligible Tar Heels to an 8-4 mark in 2012, completing over 65 percent of his passes for 3,356 yards and an impressive 28 touchdowns to just 7 interceptions.

Like the Tar Heels, Renner never really found his footing in 2013, eventually settling into a role where he split quarterbacking duties with the speedier Marquise Williams. Health wasn’t the only issue for Renner, as his touchdown passes slipped to 10 with five picks and he was sacked 16 times compared to 11 all of last season.

Not only did the Tar Heels drop four straight games at one point, including a lackluster performance in a blowout loss to in-state rival East Carolina, but the team also failed to come up with a signature win that could have sparked the season. A season-opening loss to South Carolina was probably to be expected, but UNC let opportunities slip by in setbacks to Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and most notably a previous top-10 in Miami.

Renner put up arguably his best performance of the season against Miami, completing 28 of 36 passes for 297 yards with a touchdown and interception. The fact that it came in a defeat, however, pretty much sums up the Tar Heels season.

It has been a campaign of what-ifs and what-could-have-beens for UNC, and the same goes for its now-former No. 1 signal-caller. Perhaps that’s why Renner was emotional in his comments Tuesday when reporters caught up to him on campus.

“It’s tough, the fact that it’s over just sunk in,” Renner said, wiping tears from his eyes. “It’s been a good five years, and I can’t thank my coaches and teammates enough … all my brothers in the locker room mean a lot to me; sorry to get emotional, but it means a lot to me.”

Tar Heels coach Larry Fedora said he was disappointed that Renner, who will require surgery to repair a detached labrum and a fracture in his left (non-throwing) shoulder, wouldn’t be suiting up again for his team.

“He means a lot to this football team, and I hate that his career at UNC has come to an end at this time,” Fedora said. “I know it’s hard for him.”

Renner said he’ll especially miss preparing for games and then competing in them.

“I’ve seen it all. Experienced it all,” Renner said. “I’ve accomplished a lot in my career, and one thing that I’m proud of is I gave 110 [percent] every time that I strapped it up on Saturdays. And that’s one thing I’m going to miss, is Saturdays.”

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