The 'Substitute Teacher': Hunter Renfrow might not look the part, but looks can be deceiving

If you saw Hunter Renfrow walking down the street you probably wouldn’t recognize him, and you certainly wouldn't suspect he’s one of the Oakland Raiders most-exciting young prospects by looking at him.

But you couldn't be more wrong.

At 5-10 and 184 pounds, the former Clemson Tiger doesn’t look the part of an NFL wide receiver, but as the saying goes, looks can be deceiving.

Who could forget Renfrow’s memorable game-winning touchdown catch in the National Championship against Alabama two years ago? The very same game, Renfrow went off for 10 receptions and 92 yards with two touchdowns. HIs career at Clemson was more than just one play, though, as he was not willing to let that one moment overshadow his consistent ability to produce.

When the Oakland Raiders selected Renfrow in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft, Head Coach Jon Gruden and General Manager Mike Mayock were ecstatic about the young addition; however, Renfrow has experienced possibly more than his fair share of rookie ribbing than the rest.

We’ve had a lot of fun jabbing Renfrow,” Gruden told the media Friday. “He does not look the part. He does not look the part, but don’t let looks fool you or deceive you. He’s a great competitor. He’s talented, he’s quick, fast twitch, natural receiver. He is going to have his hands full when LaMarcus Joyner shows up. It’ll be excellent for him and his development to see if he can stand in front of that guy and block him and separate from him.”

Mayock piggybacked of Gruden’s comments, “one story along with Renfrow is the night we drafted him, we traded up to get him. Jon gets him on the phone first and he hands me the phone. You guys have all seen what he looks like facially. I get on the phone and I was all jacked up and we traded up and I’m like, ‘Hunter, you remind me of Doogie Howser. It’s unbelievable. We traded up for Doogie Howser!’ He was like, ‘Yeah, hi Coach how are you?’ I get off the phone with him and he was in the building two days later. I said, ‘Did you even know who Doogie Howser was?’ He said, ‘Well actually Mr. Mayock, I had to ask my Dad.’ He’s taken a lot of heat from how he looks. But trust me, he’s earning some respect.”

Everybody has a nickname for Renfrow, some more rude than others – all jokes of course — from Doogie Houser to “Substitute Teacher,” which is what Derek Carr refers to him as, but the one thing everyone seems to agree on is his talent and that despite looking like your average dude, Renfrow is more than capable of beating anybody off the line.

“I call him the substitute teacher,” Carr joked. “He doesn’t look the part, but when he runs, he can run. He’s fast, man, people don’t give him credit for that. He can run away from people, he can move, he’s shifty, he’s a great route runner, he’s smart, great hands. If I were to tell you that without you looking at him you’d say, ‘I want that guy.’ It just happens to be, he looks like he’s been stressed out for a couple years.”

During the Reese’s Senior Bowl in February, Renfrow’s former head coach Dabo Swinney couldn’t help but rant and rave about the 23 year old. Stating that he’s the epitome of what makes football great, and that when he goes to work, he’s like a superhero.

Renfrow is a cerebral player gifted with highly underrated skill set, and his maturity level has surprised Carr in the early going.

“Super smart, I can tell him one time, one thing and he knows exactly what I’m saying, and with a rookie receiver that’s not always the case,” he said. “He gets it.”

Even in competition with the likes of Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams, Renfrow has a legitimate chance to round out the wide receiving corps and establish himself as the go-to slot player, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at him.

Perhaps Renfrow is the perfect example that we should always remember that something special comes in all shapes and sizes.

Advertising