If you listen to some of the media members in attendance at Grandover Resort, Clowney is a quasi-Greek god capable of ripping opposing quarterbacks' heads clean off their bodies.
The junior defensive end (54 tackles, 13 sacks in ‘12) is expected to be a top pick in next April’s NFL Draft.
Clowney made headlines at last week’s SEC media days by telling reporters that Clemson’s Tajh Boyd, Georgia’s Aaron Murray and former Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson were scared to play against South Carolina’s defensive line.
CBSSports.com’s Jerry Hinnen penned that no one would have really blamed Murray “since fear in the presence of Mr. Clowney is the natural reaction for any human being less imposing than RoboCop.”
Murray, as expected, dismissed that claim two days later and Boyd did the same on Sunday in Greensboro. That didn’t stop reporters from asking a similar question to Renner, who praised Clowney’s ability before adding a dose of reality to the discussion.
“First off, he’s one of the most natural athletes I’ve seen play on the football field,” Renner said. “But I’ve played against guys like Robert Quinn, Marvin Austin and Quinton Coples. I was actually scout team against those guys, so they were hitting me pretty hard my freshman year as a rookie when I was weighing 175 pounds.”
Quinn was drafted with the No. 14 overall pick by St. Louis in 2011, while Coples was picked 16th overall by the New York Jets in 2012. Austin was a second round selection in 2011.
Defensive tackle Sylvester Williams, Renner’s teammate in 2012, was also a first-round selection by Denver this past April.
Coples and his athleticism offer the best comparison for Clowney, according to Renner.
The fifth-year senior quarterback admitted his previous experience practicing against first-round talent mitigated the hype surrounding the South Carolina standout while also giving full credit to Clowney’s talents.
“We’re looking forward to the opportunity to play a team like that,” Renner said. “I have not had the opportunity to play a top-10 team with the best player in the country. We’re going to see where we stack up. I know it’s been a huge motivation for us in the offseason.”
One aspect of the North Carolina-South Carolina season opener that most media members have overlooked is Clowney’s matchup with another likely first-round talent in left tackle James Hurst.
“I’ve got 100 percent confidence in James Hurst,” Renner said. “He’s been with me for three years and he’s the best left tackle in the country. It’s going to be a great matchup.”
Renner told reporters there have not been any initial conversations on how to defend Clowney.
“I’m excited,” Renner said. “I’m a competitor just as everyone else is. To go against the best is a great opportunity. In order to get better, you have to play against the best.”