CLINTON, S.C. (WSPA) – Presbyterian quarterback Ren Hefley’s record-setting performance in the season opener shocked the football world. But it turns out that moment was years in the making going back to his days as a kid in Arkansas.
“I first learned of Ren when he was born,” Kelley said with a chuckle. “I’ve known the family their whole life.”
Ren’s older brother was head coach Kevin Kelley’s quarterback for four years at high school powerhouse Pulaski Academy. During that time, Ren was already learning the system in grade school.
“I wanted them to run a very watered down version of our system, our formations, our words,” said Kelley.
“I played quarterback in his offense from 5th all the way through junior high and then I played for him for a year as his junior varsity quarterback,” Hefley added.
The quarterback eventually became a walk-on at Michigan, and after two seasons decided to join the program his former coach was looking to rebuild.
“Once you start playing for other schools it’s like ‘wow, he’s really doing something over at PA (Pulaski Academy).’ And then you start paying attention to his offense a little more. And definitely appreciate it coming back and playing in it…Ultimately this is where I wanted to be.”
Despite coming to PC from a Power 5 program and with familiarity in the system, Hefley still had to win the job and win over the team. Kelley said he did just that with his play and leadership on the practice field.
“He had the perfect attitude, ‘I’m going to come in; I’m going to compete for a spot.’ He had to work on the field and show them that he was the guy that was going to be a leader for them in that area.”
Hefley not only set an FCS record with ten touchdowns in his PC debut; he followed it up with four more in week two, leading the Blue Hose to a 2-0 start.
“I wasn’t really thinking about the stats or anything like that,” Hefley recalled. “If I had been I may have been a little more excited and may have cut it off a little earlier, so I’m glad I wasn’t. But it meant a lot to me and I hope it meant a lot to my teammates to be a part of that.”
“I hope it speaks to the fact that they’re starting to buy into what we’re doing,” said Kelley. “All in all it was a pretty cool deal and I’m glad they got to do it. Because there’s not many times where you can say your name’s on a NCAA record like that.”
A historic start for a duo with a history.