Renner, Glennon maintain unique friendship

Bryn Renner remembers getting out of his parents’ car before a youth league basketball game as a kid and seeing a car pull up and park right next to theirs.

A tall, lanky kid with strawberry blonde hair got out and walked into the gym. He was on the opposing team that day and the sight of him did nothing to shake Renner’s confidence.

About four years later, Renner was a freshman on the varsity basketball team at West Springfield, but with rival Centreville coming up the coaching staff dropped him down to the junior varsity for a game. They wanted Renner to give the JV squad a boost.

So when the hot-shot, who also was a future star quarterback for the football team, got the ball on the wing, he recognized that same kid, who was a lot taller, not as lanky, and wore an intense look on his face, was guarding him. That kid, Mike Glennon, who was also a star quarterback for his school, was right in Renner’s face.

It was the beginning of another small chapter in a long rivalry between the two that has carried over into college where Glennon quarterbacks the N.C. State Wolfpack and Renner does the same for the North Carolina Tar Heels.

The players actually like each other a lot. They have unique ties, and over time have become true friends, yet there are odd circumstances to their relationship.

“It’s really neat to have a friend like that,” Renner said.

Glennon is a fifth-year senior and a year ahead of Renner. Both have taken similar paths in college, each getting their first chances to run their respective offenses a year ago. Glennon turned in an excellent season completing 62.5 percent of his pass attempts for 3,054 yards and 31 touchdowns. He did so having replaced prolific passer Russell Wilson, who is now with the Seattle Seahawks.

Renner completed 68.3 percent of his pass attempts for 3,086 yards and 26 scores replacing T.J. Yates, who is with the Houston Texans.

Glennon’s older brother, Sean, was a starting quarterback at Virginia Tech, while Renner’s father was his high school coach. So both have been around the game and exposed to the nuances more than many of their peers. And along the way, at football camps and just competing against each other, they have become friends.

But that doesn’t stop them from telling it like it is. But there’s no real UNC-NCSU stuff going on here. It’s all above board.

Glennon’s squad got the better of Renner’s in the Northern Region football title game Glennon’s senior season. “Our team was better, but he played a great game,” Glennon said.

Renner would rather not talk about that contest but he’s open to discussing Glennon.

“I have total respect for Mike,” he said. “We grew up 15 minutes from each other and we’ve known each other for a while. I’ve been very impressed with his game. He’s taken it up to the next level.”

Glennon’s Wolfpack has won four consecutive games versus the Tar Heels, so no wonder Renner gets great pleasure out of regaling folks with his hoops memories. After all, there’s no debate between the tandem of who the better basketball player is.

“I am a better basketball player, I’ll admit that,” said Renner, who is 6-foot-3.

If there was ever any doubt, Renner closed that argument that night as a high-school freshman when Glennon came out on the wing to defend him. Renner had already drained a few perimeter shots and was having a good game when Glennon came out hard to defend another 3. Renner fell to the ground, saw some blood and felt a horrible pain in his nose.

“I made the shot,” he said, smiling. “I got fouled, too. I was talking a little trash.”

In the locker room at halftime, though, Renner was concerned about his nose. He told his father and grandfather he wasn’t sure he could play. “They were like, ‘If you don’t play you’re not eating.’”

Renner finished the game with 40 points.

Glennon won’t ever forget that game and what he realized.

“I covered him and he dropped a lot of points on me,” said Glennon, who is 6-6. “He’s a better athlete all around.”

But they are now just football players. The hardwood doesn’t matter, and neither does Springfield Youth or Centreville Youth.

When the Wolfpack and Tar Heels square off on Oct. 27, football fans will see rivals but friends who go a long way back. And despite their relationship, they will want to beat the heck out of each other as if their admiration for each other was more dislike.

The pair wouldn’t want it any other way.