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November 5, 2013

Tearful Renner says goodbye

Following North Carolina's Tuesday afternoon practice, North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora addressed the news that fifth-year senior quarterback Bryn Renner has damaged his left shoulder and will require season-ending surgery Wednesday in Chapel Hill.

Fedora made a brief statement, not taking questions as he explained his thoughts on Renner and what he's meant to UNC football over the past two years, and where the Tar Heels go from here.

"I'm sure all of you know by now---and I'm sure most of you knew before I did---that Bryn is having season-ending surgery on his non-throwing shoulder," said Fedora.

"You know, I hate it for him. He's been a tremendous leader for our football team for the last two years since I've been here. The guy's thrown for over 8,000 yards---I think one of only three guys who have done that in the history of Carolina---he's thrown 64 touchdown passes. He means a lot to this football team. I hate that his career here at UNC has come to an end at this time. I know it's hard for him."

Fedora admitted that sophomore Marquise Williams is now the full-time starter, and he'll be the guy under center for UNC against Virginia with no rotation. Offensive coordinator Blake Anderson re-affirmed that to Tar Heel Illustrated in a separate post-practice interview.

"We're going to get ready for a game and Marquise will be the guy that steps up and will have to make the plays for us now," said Fedora.

An uncharacteristically emotional Renner left his heart on his sleeve as he thanked those who helped him become one of the most prolific quarterbacks in the annals of UNC football.

"It's tough, just knowing the fact that it's over. It's just kind of sunk in. It's been a good five years," said Renner, openly shedding tears in front of the media assemblage.

"I can't thank my coaches, my teammates, my brothers in the locker room. They just mean a lot to me. Sorry for getting emotional, but my teammates mean a lot to me."

"I gave it all I had for five years. It's just hard right now," he continued. "I'd like to thank the fans, everybody's support."

Right up until Tuesday morning, Renner held out hope that he was going to be fine for this week's game against Virginia.

"I just though it was a bruise. I've played through a lot of injuries through the three years I've started (at UNC)," he replied. "Sunday we went through the whole process, got X-Rays, and then I headed up to MRI. When I came back in on Sunday (evening), they didn't have the results in."

"Monday I was getting kind of worried because I hadn't heard anything back. I didn't really find out until today (Tuesday). I kind of went in there and got the news. And it just hit me. It just kind of went from there."

"I kind of partially tore my labrum, and then I fractured my scapula. That's kind of the diagnosis, but until they go in there they don't know the extent of the injury right now," Renner added. "I've had this surgery before, and you can't really tell. You don't really know the extent of it until the Doctor goes in there and sees it."

Aside of missing UNC's final four games and a possible bowl game, Renner acknowledged that the most difficult thing about the season-ending injury is saying goodbye to his teammates, though true to his humble nature, he wants to stay out of the limelight and out of their way.

"That's probably the toughest thing that I'm going to have to do the next couple days. I just saw a couple of the guys," he said, again fighting back tears. "But it's tough to see everybody out here (at practice). That's why I came up late because I didn't want to be a distraction. And that's one thing I don't want to be. I don't want to be a distraction to this team."

Renner is confident in Williams and Kanler Coker moving forward as they take the torch as UNC's top quarterbacks heading into the final stretch this fall.

"We're rolling right now. Marquise is going to do a great job. Kanler is going to do a great job. That's one thing I don't want to be is a distraction to this team," he said.

Taking one final look back on his final day as an active Tar Heel football player, Renner talked about all the things he's seen and done going back to when he arrived on the UNC campus back in the summer of 2009.

"I had three coaches in five years. I've seen it all. Experienced it all. I've accomplished a lot in my career, and one thing that I'm proud of is I gave 110 (percent) every time I strapped it on Saturdays. And that's one thing I'm going to miss is Saturdays," he said.


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