A closed-loop soundtrack plays in Tyler Renew’s mind each time he takes a handoff and points his feet upfield.
With each footfall, he hears himself saying “I’m not going down,” as he blows through the first hit, even as he slowed by one tackler, and then another.
“I’m not going down.”
“You just kind of have to say that to yourself and keep going as far as you can go,” said Renew, a senior running back who is leading the Falcons’ offense, averaging more than 100 yards per game.
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His coaches say Renew is a master of forward progress who never loses focus.
“He’s an overcomer,” coach Reggie Shaw said. “We’re very proud of him and how he’s handled his adversity. He could have found reasons not to succeed.”
Renew was seven-years-old when his mother died, and in the absence of his father and stepfather, his early childhood was difficult.
With the help of his extended family, Renew kept going.
“I had a really tough childhood, but my grandparents picked me up really from rock bottom, and they have done a great job of helping me move on from there,” Renew said.
“I just learned to live from it, and focused on just being a role model for kids in that situation,” Renew said.
Shaw said Renew’s focus and work ethic are key to his status as one the top backs in SCISA and in the region.
“He’s got that rare combination of natural ability and work ethic. It pushes those around him to be better, and he would be a leader on any team,” Shaw said. “His level of athletic ability, I’m tempted to play him at every position. That’s the challenge, not to play him too much.”
Running backs coach Rob DeBoer said Renew needs no extra push.
“He does things you can’t teach, and he has the intangible of attitude,” he said.
“You never have to question if he’s hurt, you never have to question if he’s giving 100 percent,” DeBoer said. “In fact, it’s the opposite. You sometimes have to pull him back.”
Renew always is intent to keep forging ahead.
Having spent the summer building leadership skills and muscle mass, Renew highlighted his preseason by making a verbal commitment to The Citadel.
In his senior season, Renew often has been met with double coverage coming out of the backfield.
DeBoer said “the expectations that he puts on himself are so high, he’s not thinking about the fact that he is not in a normal situation.”
Renew said a certain number of yards is not his aim.
“I definitely want to work hard every game, and make the best effort I can to set an example for the younger guys,” Renew said.
“He’s ready for the next phase of football and his life,” Shaw said.
With added strength and as much speed as ever, Renew will keep going.