Hunter Renfrow got his first taste of the NFL postseason in last Saturday's loss by the Las Vegas Raiders at the Cincinnati Bengals.
It marked the first time that the organization had been to the playoffs since 2016, so it was a new experience for many of the players. For the former Clemson star receiver, he hopes a lesson from his playing days with the Tigers can be applied to his pro team as it looks to build off of a 10-7 regular-season record but fell short of advancing in the postseason.
"At Clemson in 2015, we lost the national championship. In 2016, we won (the national titie)," Renfrow said to the NFL media during his end-of-season interview. "And having the same guys there and working with them all offseason and having that spark of 'we were close but now we've got to get it done' drove us all offseason. Just the continuity of it, digging in, having that excitement that we're close. That alone should keep us working pretty hard."
The Tigers' first trip to the College Football Playoff in 2015 was a jumping-off point for Renfrow, Deshaun Watson, Wayne Gallman and several other Tigers. Getting within five points of Alabama in that national title game helped give the 2016 squad, which also returned its coaching staff, the motivation to get back, which it did. Renfrow caught the game-winning touchdown against the Crimson Tide from Watson to capture Clemson's first national title since 1981.
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"The biggest thing is continuity," Renfrow said. "I know we're all awaiting the big announcement for what this offseason is going to look like. I feel like every NFL year is probably similar: who's staying around, who's leaving, who's going to be here next year?"
There are a lot of questions to ask, especially at the top. The Raiders lost head coach Jon Gruden when he resigned during the 2021 regular season for inappropriate conduct. Assistant coach Rich Bisaccia took over on an interim basis and led the Raiders on a three-game winning streak to get them into the postseason.
It's unclear whether owner Mark Davis will look outside the franchise for a new head coach or promote Bisaccia to full-time status. The Raiders will go in a different direction at general manager.
Renfrow said he knows his role isn't in the organization's decision-making, but his past of continuity at Clemson and his relationship with Bisaccia has the former Tiger campaigning for his interim.
"Me personally, I love Rich," said Renfrow, who's coming off the best season of his career. "Whoever they bring in here is going to do a great job but I think Rich has proven that he can do it at this level. We love playing for him. We play hard for him. He's done a great job. He can lead us if given the opportunity. We'll obviously love whoever they bring in and we'll work toward winning a Super Bowl next year."
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