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Bryn Renner, Golf Club Assistant To NFL Quarterback


This time last year, Bryn Renner was dealing with surly old men who were quite particular about the way their golf clubs were put on the cart.

Renner was working at a golf course in North Carolina as a regular-Joe employee, getting the carts ready to go in the morning, fixing them when they inevitably broke down and cleaning them after each round.

He worked 12-hour days, his headphones popped in and his hat pulled down so people couldn't recognize the college quarterback they likely rooted for a year prior at Chapel Hill, just 20 miles away.

It's all part of Renner's atypical journey the past two years – from big-time college quarterback to golf course employee and now to the Ravens' 10-man practice squad.

"It's been a crazy two years, honestly," Renner said. "I never thought this opportunity would come."

Renner, a product of West Springfield High School in Northern Virginia, had highly successful sophomore and junior seasons as the Tar Heels' starter in 2011 and 2012, and could have been a mid-round draft pick. That was until he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in the fifth game of his senior year.

Despite still receiving an invitation to the NFL Scouting Combine, Renner went undrafted in 2014 and was signed by the Denver Broncos. The Broncos, however, never gave him a chance.

Renner said he didn't get a single rep in practice there – not even 7-on-7 drills. With Peyton Manning and young backup Brock Osweiler, a 2012 second-round pick, Renner was an afterthought.

Renner hasn't forgotten the date the Broncos released him – Aug. 22, 2014. He didn't see any preseason action and didn't even make it to the big first round of cuts from 90 to 75 players.

Frustrated and knowing it would be highly unlikely for a team to pick up a quarterback at that stage of training camp, Renner immediately started looking for work. He likes golf and had built relationships  at a course near college, so he figured, "Why not?"

Within the week that he was cut, Renner took a job at The Tradition Golf Club at Chapel Ridge.

"I'm not a guy that likes to sit around much," Renner said. "I worked 12-hour days just trying to occupy my mind. I just wanted to get away from football and wrap myself around something to do."

Renner reported to work at 5:30 a.m. each day to get about 125 carts ready for action, screwing name plates on each one. They were gas-powered, so he had to learn some mechanic skills. And don't forget about that customer service smile. He hustled for $2 tips.

Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. likes to bust Renner's chops. Even though Smith is an edgy 36-year-old veteran, he doesn't compare to the crankiness of golfers more than twice his age.

"They let me hear it," Renner said with a laugh. "Every old man going to play golf wants things done right. Putting clubs on was nerve-wracking in itself."

When the days would get especially long, Renner's mind would float back to football. Finally, the Arizona Rattlers of the Arena Football League called and asked if Renner would like to play for them in February if he wasn't picked up by the NFL before then. Renner agreed he would go

Not too long after, in early-November, Renner got a call from the Ravens. It was during Baltimore's bye-week, and they needed a quarterback to throw to some tight ends they were trying out to sign to their practice squad.

The Ravens called Renner because they thought he lived nearby in Virginia. When he told them he was actually in North Carolina, they looked for other options but couldn't find any. They flew Renner to Baltimore for the workout. Afterwards, Ravens Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak told Renner he did a great job, and that was it.

Renner later got a workout with the New York Jets during the last week of the season, but again wasn't signed. Then, on Jan. 12, 2015, the Ravens called back. Renner had made enough of an impression that they wanted to sign him to a future-reserves contract.

Finally, Renner had his shot. And this summer, he made the most of it.

His first-ever NFL game action came in the Ravens' preseason opener against the Saints at M&T Bank Stadium, and he couldn't have scripted a better story.

After throwing an interception that allowed New Orleans to take a late fourth-quarter lead, Renner had to drive the Ravens 80 yards for a touchdown with less than two minutes remaining. On fourth down, Renner rolled right and dove into the end zone for the game-winning score with two seconds left. He celebrated like he had just won the Super Bowl.

"It felt almost like a high school football game," Renner said. "It all happened so quick. I wish I could go back and relive it."

Hunch is, Renner will be reliving that moment for years to come. But his NFL story isn't over yet.

The Ravens signed veteran backup Matt Schaub to a one-year deal this offseason. After this season, they'll again be looking for a backup to Joe Flacco. Could that man be Renner?

Renner already beat out Keith Wenning, a 2014 sixth-round draft pick. He beat out undrafted rookie Jerry Lovelocke as well. Now he'll get a chance to learn behind Flacco and Schaub, two vets with a lot of experience and wins under their belt.

On Thursday night, after Renner played most of the game and went 18-for-24, 128 yards and two touchdowns, and nearly led another come-from-behind win. Head Coach John Harbaugh called Renner to the middle of the locker room to break the final preseason huddle.

"Every quarterback is really on an individual journey," Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman said. "Some of them get started early, some other guys it takes them a number of years and then all of a sudden they're playing.

"We have a guy that loves football. Bryn is highly intelligent. He's quick-minded, can get the ball out of his hands, make some plays. He has showed he has a little bit of an 'it' factor."

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