Darien Rencher recently sat down with the Clemson Athletic Department to take part in its "Voices of Clemson" series.
The series allows Clemson student-athletes a platform to share their perspective on events happening around the country. In Rencher's video, the senior running back talks about racial tension that was building up after the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor.
"I saw in myself a lot of feelings that I have suppressed for a long period of time, and it came to a tipping point," Rencher said. "I realized I couldn't ignore these feelings and issues anymore."
After a time of reflection, Rencher met with senior teammates to express their feelings while having a conversation about what was happening in the world. He called the conversation a "unifying experience" and wanted to branch out to the rest of the team.
"In a relational context, you can have somebody be angry about issues, and somebody can be heard about an issue, but you come together at the end of the day," Rencher said. "Everybody was feeling something, whether they expressed it or not, but we became a family."
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From the meeting, Rencher continued to look for ways to unify not only his team, but also the Clemson community. He realized the platform he and his teammate had as football players.
"There was a protest in Anderson and a protest in Greenville, so we decided to have one at Clemson," Rencher said. "It was amazing how it all came together, I was super shocked. It was awesome the way the staff came together to execute our vision."
Rencher, along with teammates Trevor Lawrence, Mike Jones Jr. and Cornell Powell, helped organize a peaceful protest and march on the Clemson campus. The protest featured nearly 3,000 people and came on the heels of the Clemson University Board of Trustees changing the name of the university's Honors College.
"Personally, it was a top-five moment for me as a football player at Clemson," Rencher said. "There was a lot of emotion, but a lot of hope. It was cool to see Clemson be the example of how to go about adversity and change. I feel more empowered as a young man and as a student-athlete."
As a result of the protest, Rencher has been named to the Wuerffel Trophy Watch List. The annual award is given a college football player that exemplifies community service.
"We didn't want to make this just a moment," Rencher said. "I don't think we have to figure it out 20 years ahead, but we do have a part to play right now. People are going to look at us and see us as examples. Days are bright ahead and hopefully we have paved the way for students to have more of a voice at Clemson and around the country."