GREENSBORO – N.C. State quarterback Mike Glennon and rival Bryn Renner, the starting quarterback for North Carolina, sat at an airport terminal earlier this month in Raleigh and spoke for the first time in quite awhile.
They were both headed to the Manning Passing Academy, an elite-level school for college quarterbacks, but the future didn’t come up as they bantered.
Instead, they talked about the past. Not particularly about the Wolfpack’s shutout victory against the Tar Heels last year, although that did come up.
No, the two have much more history than that.
“We’ve known each other since we came up the ranks,” Renner said. “There’s a long friendship.”
And a little bit of a rivalry as well.
Confrontations have become the norm for the pair, who have been friends for more than a decade while living approximately 25 minutes apart in Virginia.
“When we were younger, we might not have spoken, but we knew of one another,” Glennon said. “We were always in competition. … Although we didn’t talk, we kind of built a relationship without even realizing it.”
Glennon and Renner’s confrontations are limited to the football field now, but they weren’t always. During Glennon’s sophomore year at Westfield High School, he played junior varsity basketball. When his team played West Springfield during the season, he was assigned to guard a young freshman, who recently was brought down from varsity – Renner.
While it was Renner who stole the show with a very memorable 45 points – he was confidently sure of his total – Glennon left the most impact.
He broke Renner’s nose. Renner didn’t leave the game; in fact, he had a little trash talk saved for his opponent.
“With my grandfather and my dad in the stands, if you weren’t playing then you weren’t going to eat,” said Renner, who also is close with Glennon’s older brother, Sean, a former All-ACC quarterback at Virginia Tech.
That wasn’t the end of the high school spat.
Glennon had the last laugh two years later as a senior on the football field. He doesn’t take much credit for the victory, but he led Westfield to a regional championship victory against Renner and his team.
Glennon brought it up once, maybe as his own form of trash talk, but he hasn’t since.
“We kind of let it go,” said Glennon, who attempted just nine passes in Westfield’s 58-34 victory as the two quarterbacks lead their teams to a record-setting offensive performance.
“We are very competitive as far as being the best quarterback we can be,” said Renner, who scored five touchdowns in the regional championship.
Glennon went on to win his own state title, matching his brother’s, while jumping off Renner’s back to do so.
Unknown to Glennon, he would use his old rival’s back to climb out of another shadow a few years later, after the pair traveled a couple of hours south to the Triangle.
Glennon emerged from the shadow of former Wolfpack quarterback Russell Wilson when N.C. State beat the Tar Heels, 13-0.
“He’s definitely used me to springboard, so to speak,” Renner said. “… It’s all part of the game. We play them again this year, so hopefully I can change that.”
Renner will have a chance Oct. 27.
It probably will be his last chance.
But Renner’s desire to enact revenge on Glennon isn’t some kind of ill will. In fact, it’s that exact yearning that has pushed both quarterbacks for the past decade.
It has driven them both to succeed.
“I think it just makes it a little more interesting – going against someone you’ve known since you were a kid,” Glennon said.
The two share a mutual respect, and Renner still feels like his team could have won the regional championship five years ago. The two are competitors on the field and friends off of it.
“We get along well,” Renner said. “Being from the same area, you kind of root for the guy.”
Renner will kind of root for Glennon, as long as it’s not at his expense.
“You want to see them succeed – to a certain extent,” Glennon said with a laugh.
Justin Hite can be reached at 407-9951 or firstname.lastname@example.org