Clemson’s Rencher named 2020 Disney Spirit Award winner

Clemson’s Rencher named 2020 Disney Spirit Award winner
Clemson running back Darien Rencher(21) runs down the hill before the game against Pittsburgh, Nov 28, 2020; Clemson, South Carolina, USA; at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports (Source: Ken Ruinard)

CLEMSON, S.C. (WIS) - All in God’s timing.

On Monday night after practice, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney gathered the team around to deliver a special surprise announcement. He revealed the winner of the 2020 Disney Spirit Award was Clemson senior running back Darien Rencher.

“It could not happen to a better guy,” said Swinney. “What a great example he is. He’s an undersized running back. He’s a really good player. He had a couple of ACL surgeries in high school. He still put the work in and chased his dream. He accomplished his dream.”

The Anderson native’s smile, when told of the news, revealed his gratitude to receive an honor presented annually to college football’s most inspirational player, coach, team, or figure.

“Felt like God was giving me a big old hug,” added Rencher.

“He’s become a great leader, an inspirational leader within this locker room and building,” Swinney said. “To me, that’s what it is all about, making the best of what you have. Working every day to be the best version of you and doing with it joy, and doing it in a way that impacts those around you in a positive manner. Darien has certainly done that. I’m really proud of him and happy for him.”

This year, Rencher guided Clemson’s push for social justice initiatives and was an instrumental voice in the drive to play football safely amid a pandemic.

“It reminds you why you do stuff,” Rencher said. “The timing of this award was incredible. God set me up for sure.”

The senior running back felt the lows of not reaching the personal goals he set for himself on the field. To be recognized for all the work put in off of it means a great deal to Rencher.

“That you’re in the right place and that you’re doing the right things,” Rencher said. “All the hard things [I went through] was worth it. Legit been balling my eyes out for the last 30 minutes.”

His parents shared tears of joy when Rencher called to deliver the exciting story. Rencher says God comes through in tough times.

Rencher suffered multiple knee injuries while playing at T.L.Hanna High School. The second one cost him football scholarship offers. He credits a strong support system that encouraged him years ago to pursue his dream of playing at Clemson. Rencher went from a walk-on to a scholarship player to a prestigious award winner for his community contributions.

He hopes this award provides a positive lasting impact to inspire those within the community.

“What you appreciate is somebody who has been faithful to what they feel like is on their heart and soul,” said Rencher. “I hope people see that with me. Hopefully, it encourages them to do the right thing, to dream, and not to give up.”

A drive to believe was instilled into him by his parents, friends, teammates, and coaches.

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