The game didn't go the way the Clemson Tigers wanted it, but Hunter Renfrow became a household name during Monday night's national championship game.
The redshirt freshman came into Monday's College Football Playoff National Championship Game with three receiving touchdowns on the season.
He was already close to matching that total after one quarter of play.
Renfrow caught both of Deshaun Watson's first-quarter touchdown passes, propelling the ACC champs to a 14-7 lead over the Alabama Crimson Tide. Renfrow went toe-to-toe with the Heisman Trophy winner, Derrick Henry, and the score reflected that in the second quarter, per Dan Wolken of USA Today:
Derrick Henry 14, Hunter Renfrow 14— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) January 12, 2016
The Tide edged out Clemson in the title game, winning 45-40. Renfrow finished with seven catches for 88 yards and those two touchdowns.
Despite those touchdowns and etching his name into national title lore for at least a quarter, B/R's Mike Freeman was not having any nonsense come across his timeline:
Anyone who tweets that Hunter Renfrow is sneaky athletic gets blocked.— mike freeman (@mikefreemanNFL) January 12, 2016
ESPN's Andrea Adelson talked with Clemson co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott earlier this week about which wide receiver was the toughest to stop during practice, and wouldn't you believe it?
Jeff Scott told me this about Hunter Renfrow: "He’s probably the toughest guy to cover 1 on 1 when we go against our DBs. ...— Andrea Adelson (@aadelsonESPN) January 12, 2016
Watson has received most of the praise as the star quarterback and Heisman Trophy finalist of the only undefeated team left in college football, but through the first quarter of play, as Ben Cohen of the Wall Street Journal noted, Renfrow was the hero:
This guy is the early hero of the national championship. pic.twitter.com/bLiUU610r7— Ben Cohen (@bzcohen) January 12, 2016
His first touchdown grab came on a beautifully thrown ball by Watson as Renfrow got behind the secondary and helped Clemson tie the game at 7-7. College GameDay provided a Vine of Watson's throw:
As the first quarter expired, Watson found Renfrow in the back of the end zone for an 11-yard touchdown and a one-score lead over the favored Crimson Tide. SportsCenter shared this screenshot, which showed how much Renfrow had to concentrate to make the catch while going to the ground:
Watson to Renfrow again! Clemson takes 14-7 lead at the end of the 1st quarter. pic.twitter.com/74KPxS7Igw— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 12, 2016
The national championship game is a time for stars to step up and shine, but the unknowns such as Renfrow were making a difference early Monday. Renfrow was not a lead character in many of the storylines across America leading up to the contest, but he's becoming a household name, per Yahoo Sports' Pat Forde:
Hunter Renfrow, can't cover him! Not the expected storyline. Dabo loves the kid, raved about him Saturday.— Pat Forde (@YahooForde) January 12, 2016
CBS Sports' Jon Solomon thought Renfrow was having the time of his life:
Walk-on freshman WR Hunter Renfrow is turning the national championship game into his personal playground. He was a QB in high school.— Jon Solomon (@JonSolomonCBS) January 12, 2016
Renfrow was in the right spots at the right time early in Monday's contest, and it benefited Clemson throughout the first half.
Clemson came close to pulling off the upset and winning a national title, but you surely can't blame Renfrow for the Tigers coming up short. He did everything he could, but the former walk-on's great performance was unfortunately not enough.