UNC's Renner takes charge for NFL scouts
On their pro days, college quarterbacks are usually told what to do by the NFL personnel in attendance. North Carolina senior quarterback Bryn Renner had a different idea.
With 51 scouts representing all 32 NFL teams looking on, Renner directed the receivers himself and developed his own script for the order and types of throws he would make during UNC’s pro day.
“I wanted to show a little leadership,” Renner said. “… The quarterback’s got to be the leader and set the tempo, so I didn’t want a coach to be out there with me. I wanted to run it myself, so that’s what we practiced and I think it worked out great for us today.”
Scouts praised current Washington Redskins backup quarterback Kirk Cousins two years ago when he made a similar decision to direct his own pro day workout at Michigan State.
Renner was all smiles after his performance Tuesday, providing a stark contrast to the last time he spoke with reporters at Navy Practice Field – a tear-filled session four months ago when he announced that his playing career would end prematurely.
The senior missed the last five games of the season after suffering a fractured left (non-throwing) shoulder and detached labrum. He had surgery on Nov. 6.
“Missing those five games really hurt but it also motivated me,” said Renner, a three-year starter who has the best pass efficiency rating in ACC history. “I just want to keep playing the game and play as long as I can.”
Renner was cleared two months ago and participated in February’s NFL Scouting Combine.
Two of Renner’s teammates, left tackle James Hurst and running back A.J. Blue, also participated in drills Tuesday after getting injured late in their senior seasons.
Hurst, who started a school-record 49 games, suffered a non-displaced fracture in his left fibula during UNC’s Belk Bowl win over Cincinnati.
Initially, he was concerned that the injury wouldn’t let him participate in pre-draft workouts, but he is now a week or two away from being back to 100 percent. He participated in the bench press and the vertical jump as well as individual offensive line drills on Tuesday during his first workout in front of NFL personnel.
”Just real excited to get out here again and compete,” Hurst said. “Just going to the combine and watching killed me. … Today’s the first day that I was able to show people that I’m healthy. So I was real excited to have this opportunity to show everyone that so there’s no doubt in their mind on draft day that I’m good to go, that I’m going to help their team win games.”
Hurst was named first-team all-ACC in his junior and senior years by the league’s coaches, and he hoped that the four years he put on film could outweigh the missed workouts.
“At the end of the day, these guys are going to draft off game film. Everyone knows that,” Hurst said. “This stuff (Pro Day) is important – they want to see how you can move, how you can learn, how you can be coached. But at the end of the day, they want to see what kind of football player you are. I’m lucky to have four years on film to show everyone what I can do.”
Blue had just one carry in his last four games after dealing with hamstring injuries and what he said was a broken back. Blue said his back felt great Tuesday, and after watching teammates go through their pro days for the past four years, he was finally able to perform himself.
“This whole week my stomach has been crazy, and today it’s just been as calm as it’s every been, because I’ve been doing this my entire life,” Blue said. “So I was just like, ‘Blue, just go out there and do what you’ve been doing your whole life, and let it come to you,’ so that’s what I did today.”
NOTES – Seven former Tar Heels participated in the pro timing drills. Fullback Curtis Byrd, a Riverside High graduate, had the most bench reps at 225 pounds (34). Cornerback Jabari Price had the fastest 40-yard dash time (4.43), Blue had the best broad jump (9-9) and Blue and Terry Shankle tied for the best vertical jump (33 inches).