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March 17, 2010

Davis discusses two-sport Renner

North Carolina head coach Butch Davis opened his Wednesday pre-practice conversation with reporters by speaking directly about redshirt freshman Bryn Renner and his status this spring as both a UNC football and baseball player.

Renner, who a lot of folks feel is the future of the North Carolina offense in football, was a revered baseball prospect in high school and still can compete at a high level on the diamond---where he's played first base, outfield, and designated hitter for UNC so far this season.

"I have encouraged Bryn to try to play baseball," said Davis. "I know that baseball is important to him and he likes it. He spent a significant amount of time in January and February with baseball going and hitting and in the offseason lifting with us and watching film and stuff."

"(UNC head baseball coach) Mike (Fox) and I, I think have got a real good relationship and we've talked about, 'Okay, how is the best way that he (Renner) can compete for the starting job and play quarterback, and how can he as a freshman contribute and help our baseball team?'" Davis added.

In order to best help both sports while meeting his obligations as a scholarship football player, it was agreed that Renner would focus specifically on football this spring on days when the Tar Heels practice.

When time allows it---such as off days from football---he can pursue baseball, and then when the spring season ends he can return to playing every day with the baseball team.

"This is kind of a University deal to try to help everybody, and basically the agreement is he's going to go to football and do everything that's required of him with football, but if there are opportunities---like on a Tuesday when it's our off day---if he can play (baseball) if they want him to play or need him to play or to pinch hit or to watch or whatever, he's going to do that," Davis said.

The Tar Heels have an off weekend from football practice the upcoming weekend of April 2-4 for Good Friday and Easter Sunday, which will allow Renner the chance to make a road trip with the Diamond Heels.

"On the Easter weekend when we have Good Friday---we're not practicing football that Friday, nor are we practicing Saturday or Sunday because it's Good Friday and Easter---but we had talked about this a couple of months ago that if Bryn wants to, and he's contributing to the baseball team, that he's going to get on the bus and go with the team up to Virginia. I think they have a three-game series or something up there," said Davis.

Coach Davis was concerned that some might have taken it the wrong way that Renner is playing so much baseball when a lot of people think he should be focusing solely on football considering he is a player with potential to make a major impact for Carolina in the coming years.

"I'm going to cut off the controversy or whatever," said Davis. "For anybody that (says), 'I thought we was only going to be playing football,' he is (on those days UNC football practices). We only get 14 days of practice and they get like 60 baseball games, so we're trying to walk that tightrope."

The NCAA has rules in place that govern how much time student-athletes can spend each day and each week participating in intercollegiate sports---four hours per day and 20 hours per week, to be specific, with a requirement for at least one 'off day' per week.

"Two things that Mike and I have to take into consideration is one the 20-hour a week rule that all athletes during competition during spring practice and during the season, and Mike has to during baseball," said Davis.

"We've got to be very, very careful that if it's a week that we practice four times and we're going to meet and do (offensive play) installations and we're going to practice and if he's got to do any required lifting and stuff, that we don't exceed the four-hour per day nor the 20-hour per week."

"The second thing is that all athletes in NCAA, they also have to have a day off, which is probably the easiest because from a football perspective, we don't practice on Tuesdays or Thursdays or Sundays, so there's three days that we have (without workouts)," Davis added.

"Baseball, their scheduling is all over the place. They play Tuesdays. They don't play Wednesdays one week. The next week they may not play Wednesdays and play Tuesday, Thursday or Monday."

While it's quite a juggling act for Renner to try his hand at both baseball and football, it's certainly not uncharted waters for North Carolina to have standout two-sport athletes.

Given the way Renner has been throwing missiles to the Tar Heel receivers over the first two spring practices, it doesn't seem that his time in the batter's box has gotten in the way of his skills on the gridiron.

"Mutually this is something we're working around to give Bryn the opportunity to participate in both sports," said Davis.





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