At Clemson, Hunter Renfrow proved time and again he was a clutch receiver as the Tigers won a national championship.
The wide receiver simply had a way of getting open and making plays when it counted most, on third downs and late in close games.
Now, he’s doing the same thing as a rookie for the Raiders.
On Sunday, Renfrow pulled in a 9-yard pass from Derek Carr with 2:10 remaining in the game to give the Raiders a touchdown and a 31-24 victory over the visiting Detroit Lions.
It was perhaps Renfrow’s best game as a pro, as he caught six of seven passes thrown his way, for 54 yards and the touchdown – the second straight game he’s had a TD catch.
In eight games, Renfrow has caught 24 of 37 passes aimed his way for 257 yards. He’s averaging just 10.7 yards per catch, but many of those are coming in key situations. In fact, 15 of 24 have produced first downs – 63 percent.
The analytic website Pro Football Focus gave credit to Renfrow for a solid – and significant – performance.
Wrote PFF: “He seemed to get open on every important throw that Carr needed to make and made the catches despite whatever the coverage. He had multiple contested catches, some great (yards-after-catch) plays and finally, a perfect toe-tap, game-winning touchdown reception.”
The game-winning reception came on third-and-goal. Carr was forced to roll to his left, and hit Renfrow -- who was drifiting in the same direction -- at that side of the end zone, with Renfrow making the grab in traffic and keeping his feet in bounds.
The fifth-round draft pick now ranks No. 3 on the Raiders in receptions, behind fellow wideout Tyrell Williams (34) and tight end Darren Waller (48).
Renfrow and the Raiders, 4-4, have a quick turnaround this week to face off against their AFC West rivals, the 4-5 Chargers, Thursday in Oakland. Kickoff is set for 5:20 p.m.