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April 7, 2011Quarterback Bryn Renner hasn't done anything to hurt his chances of being North Carolina's 2011 starting quarterback this spring.
If anything, his solid play in practice and the emerging leadership he's showing has helped him solidify his place as the new driving force of the Tar Heel offense.
"I've been impressed (with Renner)," said UNC head coach Butch Davis. I think that you can see that he's energetic. He's enthusiastic, and I think that's contagious."
"He's matured a lot. I feel like he's not throwing down deep as much as he did last year," said sophomore safety Tre Boston. "He's more of a 'check down.' he's trying to be smarter with his passes these days. And that's what he's doing"
From a player's perspective, Renner has earned their respect not only because of the way he carries himself, but also because of the fact that he's paid his dues and has earned his chance to be the team's offensive leader.
"I think that Bryn this year, I think he's excited that he feels like he's worked as an understudy. He's earned his opportunity. He's been very patient. And he's just very much looking forward to the season," Davis said.
Renner was the beneficiary of a lot more practice repetitions last fall than a lot of backup quarterbacks around college football.
In an effort to keep senior T.J. Yates fresher while also getting Renner valuable seasoning, he got every bit as much practice time with the starters---if not more---than Yates got.
"I think one thing, I think that John (Shoop) was really smart in that the number of reps that we gave Bryn (Renner) knowing that he was very inexperienced last year---and there was always the possibility that at any given moment he may be thrust into a game and the success of our season could rest on his shoulders," said Davis.
"Traditionally you probably would give the backup quarterback somewhere maybe (between) 25 to 35 percent of the reps. There were a lot of weeks that he (Renner) took 50 percent of the practice reps with the first team."
"And I think that you can see the benefit that he got from having had that opportunity in the fold this spring. He's shown an awful lot of poise," Davis added.
"He's studied very hard since the start of spring practice, reading scripts, learning plays, watching video. And I think we're very optimistic about the things he can do for our offense next year."
Given all the personnel losses of a year ago, it really was Yates who in so many ways helped hold the team together with his solid series of performances.
Now that Yates is gone, it's on Renner now to provide that crucial production that will make or break this team's offensive success.
"I think clearly the success of any program is going to be tied to how well your quarterback plays," said Davis.
"And I think we found that out last year with T.J.. Had T.J. Yates not had a really good, outstanding senior season, there's no question we wouldn't have had the success that we had as a team last year."
"I think (he's stepped into the leadership role of a quarterback) well," Davis added about Renner.
"He's got an innate ability. He was a highly successful quarterback in high school and most quarterbacks are generally a leader of their football team. And he's not uncomfortable in that situation."
Renner has reportedly been lights-out in practice---only making a few isolated mistakes all spring.
"He's only thrown a couple of picks so far. And that's nothing. That's just dropped balls, tipped balls, stuff like that," said Boston.
A naturally-gifted athlete who was a star receiver on his high school football team in West Springfield (Va.) before being moved to quarterback, Renner seems to have that rare, special quality of talent and the right attitude.
Unlike a lot of gifted athletes who have the jumbo-sized ego to go with it, Renner seems to know how to handle his teammates and how to help them improve without coming off like a jerk.
"The players around him see how hard that he has worked, and so when he does have some critical things that he wants to say---that the route wasn't enough depth or that they misread a coverage and somebody ran the wrong route---he's comfortable in being able to point out those things, and not in a condescending manner that creates friction," said Davis.