Back Renner’s Time to Shine

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Renner’s Time to Shine

By Matthew Osborne
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Preparing for life without talented skill players such as Gio Bernard and Erik Highsmith, Bryn Renner is now prepared to assume a more pronounced leadership role with the North Carolina offense.

Persevering through a new coaching regime and the advanced knowledge that postseason play was unattainable, the North Carolina Tar Heels were able to finish the 2012 season with a 5-3 record in conference play, good enough for a share of the Coastal division title.

And while turning a lack of postseason motivation into a solid gridiron campaign would certainly lend itself to generating positive momentum for a program, the Tar Heels are too busy attempting to replace many of their key figures from last fall to worry about the past.

The Tar Heels had five players selected in the most recent NFL Draft, all of whom were at least honorable mention All-ACC players in 2012. Four of the five players selected were also considered to be major cogs in the ground game – running back Giovani Bernard, guard Travis Bond, guard Jonathan Cooper and tackle Brennan Williams.

Losing such a large collection of prominent offensive linemen and the best running back in the conference from last fall, the Tar Heels will naturally undergo a slight schematic shift offensively in 2013.

What that means for incumbent starting quarterback Bryn Renner is more of the offensive focus will fall directly on his right shoulder.

An Elite 11 signal caller coming out of West Springfield High School in Virginia, Renner spent two seasons as the backup to T.J. Yates before finally earning the starting nod prior to the start of his redshirt sophomore campaign.

Renner’s first year as he unquestioned starter was somewhat marred by inconsistency. Though he completed an exceptional 68.3% of his passes, Renner also threw 13 interceptions, the most of any starting quarterback in the ACC.

Playing in Larry Fedora’s quarterback-friendly offense last season, Renner pieced together a very solid follow up performance, completing 65.4% of his passes for 3,356 yards, 28 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

Now preparing for life without talented skill players such as Bernard and Erik Highsmith, Renner is now prepared to assume a more pronounced leadership role with the offense.

It is a leadership position which stems from his increased comfort level with offensive coordinator Blake Anderson’s scheme.

“It's morphed into where I can be a leader and coach guys when they do make a mistake,” Renner commented following the Tar Heels’ spring game on April 13. “That's the big thing about being a quarterback. Last year, I don't think that I could do that, but I think that helps.”

The very nature of the quarterback position places the player in a position to assume a massive leadership role with his team. Due to the extreme talent at his side on offense last season, however, Renner was not always asked to be the man to take charge when things went wrong in the past.

Perhaps doing so under the radar, the Tar Heels finished second in the conference in scoring offense in 2012, averaging an impressive 40.6 points per contest.

Even still, Renner believes that there are a few wrinkles the Tar Heels can add to their offense in order to take their production to the next level.

In particular, Renner is looking to increase the pace at which the offense plays on Saturdays, keeping opposing defenses gasping for air.

“I think we made a couple of changes in the offseason as far as how to go faster and it paid off being able to watch the film of how sometimes we could have pushed the ball in certain situations. I think that the sky is the limit; we have a ton of talent around me and a great offensive line.”

Even though Renner continues to say glowing things about his offensive teammates, the fact remains that he will be asked the be the focal point of the offense due to the fact that the coaching staff is uncertain of what to expect out of their many new starters.

Eric Ebron and Quinshad Davis present nice targets in the passing game, but there are legitimate causes for concern in the backfield and along the offensive front.

There is no doubt that Renner has the talent to be one of the top signal callers in the entire country.

If North Carolina has hopes of making a December trip to Charlotte, though, Renner needs to make the leap from being a very good quarterback to become a great quarterback, something which is much easier said than done.

The limelight now shining directly in his face, it is up to Renner to lead the Tar Heels to glory.

Matthew Osborne - With an extensive background in both writing and high school recruiting, Matt serves as the Editor and Director of Recruiting for Southern Pigskin. Once serving as the South Region Senior Scout for a national scouting service, Matt is very familiar with the top football prospects in the south. If it is a weekend in the fall, you can rest assured that Matt is on the road watching some of the top high school and college games in the region. To keep up with all of the latest recruiting news in the south, be sure to follow Matt on Twitter: @MattOsborneSP. You can email him at