After being named on CBS Sports's “prospect emerging” list ( and listed as Jesse Palmer's #2 breakout player in 2013, Bryn Renner, North Carolina's starting quarterback, had some steam coming into the Manning Passing Academy.
What he did at the high school camp turned the heads of everyone from Phil Savage, the former General Manage of the Cleveland Browns who is now the Executive Director of the Senior Bowl, to the Mannings themselves, reportedly.
But just because he's just recently received national attention, doesn't mean he's been a hidden gem. When Bryn Renner walked onto North Carolina's campus his freshman year, it was as after being a highly-touted, highly-recruited high school prospect. In 2010, some fans were calling him to replace starting quarterback T.J. Yates as a freshman. Yates would be picked in the fifth round by the Houston Texans in the following draft. Instead, Renner came in for injury and mop up duty for Yates, saw some time punting (his dad was an NFL punter for the Packers), and played baseball. After 2010, though, when the starting job was seemingly his, he dropped baseball to focus on leading the Tar Heels offense.
After two years as a starter, Renner ranks third all-time in passing yards, completions, attempts, and passing touchdowns for North Carolina. The only quarterbacks he's behind in those categories are T.J. Yates, the preceding Tar Heel quarterback, and Darian Durant. If Renner plays to his starting averages, he'd hold all those records by the end of 2013. His 28 and 26 touchdown seasons ranked number one and two in school history, he's the holder of the highest quarterback rating in ACC history, with 154.59.
Renner's name could only be hidden in this year's star studded quarterback, and only in the ACC. While he was named Honorable Mention All-ACC in 2012, ACC quarterbacks like Tajh Boyd, Logan Thomas, and Stephen Morris whose names ring a bell more for casual football fans. With North Carolina on a 2012 bowl ban, there wasn't much media focusing on the Tar Heels towards the end of the season, either.
Another reason Renner is just “emerging” in the mainstream eye, is because everyone is raving about his arm talent, which he rarely gets to showcase deep at North Carolina. By my count, against Duke, Maryland, Miami, and NC State combined, he only threw twelve passes of 20 or more yards and three of them were completions. None of them were completed outside of the hashes (zero of seven).
Unfortunately for Renner, many talented players from the 2012 UNC offense are no longer on the team. Jonathan Cooper was first interior offensive lineman off the board in the 2013 Draft, while Giovani Bernard was the first running back. Bernard was used heavily in the Renner-lead spread no-huddle, which North Carolina runs. Those hits, coupled with the loss of two other offensive lineman, Brennan Williams, a third rounder, and Travis Bond, a late round pick, could cause a stall in Renner's 2013 production.
2013 will be an interesting year for senior prospect. He is in the position to put himself at the top of his school's record books and the quarterback board. Everything comes down to what he makes of his third, and final, season as a starter. One thing is certain, though, Renner will need his helmet strapped on tight when he faces South Carolina (and the potential number one pick, Jadeveon Clowney) on August 29th.