Colin Renfro plans to major in economics and might someday work on Wall Street.
He already seems to have a great business sense.
The Hawaii Preparatory Academy graduate knows he has a commodity — his ability to play football at a high level — and he’s doing everything he can to take advantage of it. He has parlayed it into a scholarship to Division II Pace University, which puts him much closer to that Wall Street dream.
“It’s become a business,” Renfro said of the recruiting process. “You’re offering a service: You are playing football. You have to hold up to your end of it. If people fall back on it, there’s someone else out there that will take your position. They’ll readily take it if you let them.”
A 6-foot-6, 280-pound offensive lineman from Squaw Valley, Calif., isn’t about to let anyone wrestle his spot away from him. He’s worked too hard for it — on the field, in the weight room and in the classroom.
Renfro spent his final three years of high school at HPA and while he was impressed by the education he got at the school, he always knew that playing football thousands of miles from the mainland meant that he would need to recruit college coaches as much as they recruited him.
“I spent weekends writing emails to schools all over the country and Canada to get looks and establish communication with a coach,” he said. “I’d wake up at 3 or 4 in the morning to do conference calls. Even after football games, I’d spend three or four hours writing emails.”
That hard work and dedication paid off, but Renfro said it also exposed him to the ugly side of recruiting.
“Not naming other universities, (but) I had schools that tried to pull a fast one, ignore my calls and then call and try to wedge me into a deal,” he said. “I had coaches that promised a lot and delivered nothing. It was a very interesting road. It had a lot of setbacks and, obviously, major gains.”
So what attracted Renfro to Pace?
“Mostly their education factor — how quickly it would get me a job,” he said. “I had other schools looking at me, but in my opinion, they weren’t very professional in how they handled the recruitment process.”
Renfro has had a professionalism about him since he arrived on campus at HPA. He said that between sports — he also was part of Ka Makani’s basketball and track and field teams — and academics he had little time for outside activities.
When he returned to the mainland each summer, he’d spend hours in the weight room, which helped him gain nearly 100 pounds from the time he stepped on campus until now.
“I’m fully dedicated to the weight room,” Renfro said. “It’s like drinking water or doing your homework — it’s a major part of what makes you successful on the football field.”
For Renfro, success on the football field is about brains as much as brawn.
“You’ve got to be able to communicate and be strong,” he said. “You’ve got to be smart. That’s the one thing that can set you apart. Your brain can be the deadliest weapon on the field. A lot of guys forget that.”
Those qualities impressed new Pace coach Andrew Rondeau.
“He has genuine size and quickness as a big man,” Rondeau said of Renfro on the college’s website. “We anticipate that Colin will develop into an excellent college offensive lineman. Colin is an excellent communicator and has taken unique steps to better his educational opportunities. This is one reason why he has come across the country to attend Pace University.”
Renfro, who was an honorable mention selection to the All-Big Island Interscholastic Federation team, said he’ll be an offensive lineman at Pace, possibly a tackle.
Attending summer camps on the mainland helped Renfro realize where he needed to improve his game and also helped him gain attention. He said he’d recommend it to any Big Island players hoping to play college football.
“Playing at Hawaii can be a challenge, but if you put in hard work, you’ll get what you want,” he said.