It’s finally game week! In the past, we’ve limited these lists to just the top 25 players, but this season, we’re upping our game to 50. So just about every day until the season starts, there will be a new player profile up here as we count down to the top ACC player for 2013.
Obviously these lists are always completely subjective — and thus “completely bulletproof” — so feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments, too.
Going into last season, Bryn Renner was uncertain about how things would go for him under Larry Fedora. Previously thought of as a pro-style passer, Fedora’s new system demanded he turn on a dime and change into a spread quarterback. Renner was a quick study though, and ended up thriving in the new offense. The demands for a quick-release allowed him the luxury of going with his first instinct, and best of all, he didn’t even lose much on accuracy (down to 65 percent, from 68 in 2011). In one less game (technically more if you count the two he was benched early on account of blowouts), he completed 27 more passes for 270 more yards and two more touchdowns. Interceptions were nearly cut in half and sacks were down by 15. In just a season in the spread, he’d morphed from a mildly effective passer to a highly effective one, with minimal losses in efficiency.
And that was really just the beginning of his and the North Carolina offense’s respective transformations. Last season’s group featured very little in terms of spread-specific personnel and the wideouts were not as quick to adjust as Renner. Things are different this year, as Quinshad Davis and Eric Ebron step up into larger roles in the passing game, and give Renner the weapons he needs to progress his skill set even further. While he certainly had his hits and misses in terms of individual game performances last season, you could also see him begin to get comfortable toward the end of the schedule. Over 2012’s final three games, he threw for at least 305 yards per contest, with 10 scores and one pick, all on 73 percent accuracy. Keeping up that pace may sound silly sure, but with more experience under his belt, is it really that far-fetched?
Whether he hits those figures or not (and I think he really does have a shot to do so), Renner’s name has begun to climb the list of top college quarterbacks as prognosticators start pouring over last year’s numbers. How could a player with that many yards and touchdowns fly under the radar at a major conference program? Simple: Postseason ban and ACC. Those two elements alone have made it easy to ignore him to this point (think about how unheralded Tajh Boyd was until late last season with far better numbers), but that’s no longer the case. The goal is winning the Coastal at the very least this season, but even if they don’t, count on Renner’s numbers to be even better while his draft stock also continues to rise up the charts.