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Clemson receiver Hunter Renfrow wins national award as former walk-on

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Clemson wide receiver Hunter Renfrow is the winner of the Burlsworth Trophy, given to the nation's most outstanding player who started his career as a walk-on. Gwinn Davis/Special to The Post and Courier

CLEMSON — Hunter Renfrow has already received All-ACC honors, already caught the most important pass of his career to date and already won a national championship with Clemson's football team. 

But on Monday, the standout wide receiver from Myrtle Beach picked up another award — one of his most prestigious yet — and it also happens to be the most fitting accolade of his career, too. 

Renfrow was officially named the winner of the Burlsworth Trophy, given to the nation's most outstanding player who began his career as a walk-on. Renfrow edged out two other finalists, California running back Patrick Laird and Wyoming safety Marcus Epps, to take home the honor a year after former Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won it for the second straight year. 

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney  joked he has been waiting to nominate Renfrow for years. 

"Just incredibly consistent day in and day out. He’s a great example to his teammates as far as how he prepares and practices. So consistent in what he does," Swinney said of Renfrow earlier this season. "He's special. He really is." 

Renfrow, who grew up a lifelong Clemson fan, was a two-star recruit out of high school who was a triple-option quarterback playing for his father. He turned down smaller Division I scholarship offers to take his chances with the Tigers as a walk-on and redshirt in 2014. 

By August of 2015, he had earned a scholarship and he has been one of the most consistent wideouts Clemson has ever had. He currently holds the record for most consecutive games with a catch and he inked his name into Clemson history in January of 2017 when he caught the game-winning national championship pass from Deshaun Watson in Clemson's triumph over Alabama. 

The master of third down, Renfrow has 41 total catches this season for 472 yards and a touchdown, as he averages 11.5 yards per catch. 

Always humble and never one to sing his own praises, Renfrow won't make much out of this award publicly as his Clemson team turns its sights to a College Football Playoff date with Notre Dame. 

But if he won't, Swinney will. 

"He has always been a young person who is very wise and focused on what he wants to do in life. He has always had such a great perspective of life since the day he got here," Swinney said. "But I think the biggest thing is he's so much more confident as he has had success; as he has developed physically. 

"He was a 155-pound kid when he came here and weak as a noodle. Now, he's 182 or so and has gotten stronger and just (has) so much success to go with it." 

Follow Grace Raynor on Twitter @gmraynor

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