CLEMSON, SC -- Clemson receiver Hunter Renfrow has spent the past two weeks in the QB meeting room and taking reps behind center, a scenario required because of Kelly Bryant's abrupt departure last week. And while Renfrow said he's always eager to fill a need, he's frustrated by the new redshirt rule that allows players to leave a program midseason.
"I don't like having to worry about that," Renfrow said. "Now Week 4 every year is going to be the trade deadline, and everyone is going to make decisions. I don't like that part of it. When you commit to a school, when you commit to a team, that's your team, right?"
"Now Week 4 every year is going to be the trade deadline, and everyone is going to make decisions. I don't like that part of it. When you commit to a school, when you commit to a team, that's your team, right?" Clemson receiver Hunter Renfrow
Renfrow said he was not angry with Bryant, who decided to transfer after being benched in favor of freshman Trevor Lawrence last week, but said it was a decision he wouldn't have made.
"It's what's best for him," Renfrow said. "It's kind of like, when you have a brother, and he makes a bad decision, you love him. Not that it was necessarily a bad decision, but just one you wouldn't make yourself. But I'm not him, and I'm not here every day in his shoes."
This echoed similar comments from several other Clemson players and coaches this week. Senior defensive lineman Christian Wilkins said he supported Bryant despite the decision, and defensive coordinator Brent Venables suggested he was disappointed to see players leaving midyear.
"It's sad to see," Venables said. "I hate it, just the big picture. I'm just a loyal guy. I believe in just fighting and sticking to it. That's just me. That's easy to say. I'm not sitting here trying to judge."
Renfrow said Bryant's decision came as a surprise to most of the team, which had assumed the senior, who started the first four games of the season after leading Clemson to the playoff last year, would stick around.
Still, Renfrow said the majority of the veteran players haven't taken the decision personally.
"He made a decision, and you have to stand beside him," Renfrow said. "He's always made the right decision. If he'd been kind of a toolbag and was off on his own a lot, that's one thing. But he's always been for the team and always made the right decision. So you just have to stand behind him and support him."
Chase Brice, who was forced into action in relief of an injured Lawrence last week, said he received a text message from Bryant after Saturday's come-from-behind win over Syracuse, and he later bumped into Bryant on campus and the two shared a hug.
The gestures, however, came in the aftermath of a game Clemson could've easily lost in Bryant's absence. Lawrence was hurt late in the second quarter, and Brice was forced to take over the offense, despite just eight career pass attempts, without a clear backup. Clemson trailed by as much as 10 in the second half, and only a late fourth-and-6 conversion kept the Tigers' playoff hopes alive.
Renfrow said the drama of Bryant's departure and the difficulty in pulling out the win Saturday made last week the most difficult of his college career.
"I don't think I've ever been as exhausted after a game as I was [vs. Syracuse] from all that went on," Renfrow said. "Not just Kelly, though he was a big part of it."