Rentz due: Ocoee High School’s Dexter Rentz Jr. is already scorching opposing defenses
An offensive threat at multiple positions, Rentz wants to put an exclamation mark on his high-school career.
| 6:38 p.m. August 28, 2019
Blink and you’re liable to miss him.
Under the bright lights on Friday night, the only thing you may see of Dexter Rentz Jr. is the flash of the gold grill he wears under his mouthpiece as he smiles and runs into the end zone.
With all the complexities of the game itself, it’s the simple act of running toward that goal line that consumes Rentz’s mind when he stands on the soft, green grass of a football field.
“Before the play all I know is ‘touchdown,’ because I know when I get the ball I’m going to score,” Rentz said. “I don’t really see the defense or the people they have got to stop me, I just see the end zone. (With) me being a playmaker I just want to hit the end zone.”
During his years at Ocoee High School, Rentz has made the end zone into a place as comfortable as his own home.
While the preseason matchup two weeks ago against University High doesn’t count for anything, Rentz still had a two-touchdown night, before following that up with two touchdowns in the Knights’ season-opening win against Oak Ridge Friday, Aug. 23.
Even though Rentz is a naturally gifted runner who utilizes his speed, field awareness and smaller, 5-foot-11, 170-pound frame, hard work has played a major role in his success.
Football is a year-round sport nowadays, and with competition for playing time and future college offers being highly coveted, it’s going beyond the call of duty that truly gets you where you need to be, Rentz said. That’s what separates him from the rest.
“What makes me such a talented football player is the work that I put in when no one else is watching,” Rentz said. “I go home and do a few pushups, lift a little weight — I do the extra. I stay after practice and catch routes with my quarterback, I hit the weight room, I do two-a-days and three-a-days — I do things that an average high-school football player wouldn’t do.”
WELCOME TO THE SHOW
Since the age of 5, all Rentz has ever known is football and family.
Growing up, it was Rentz’s father — a former player himself — who placed pads onto his son’s shoulders and trained him in the sport, while cousins and brothers inspired him to dig deeper into football.
And just like other kids who dream of football glory, it was during those early days in the sport when Rentz thought about football as a long-term commitment. The passion for the sport came early, but it wasn’t until high school when Rentz realized just how much harder the sport got.
In his first-ever start on varsity — which saw the Knights take on Bishop Moore — the freshman Rentz got his first dose of big-time football.
“Before the play all I know is ‘touchdown,’ because I know when I get the ball I’m going to score.”
— Dexter Rentz Jr.
“I caught a screen pass and I quickly realized that varsity high-school football is nothing like little league,” Rentz said. “Little league, I could have caught a screen pass like I did and cut all the way back across the field or made a couple of guys miss. I tried to do the same thing in high school … and I got hit.
“I was actually shocked — I was like, ‘Woah, this just happened,’” Rentz said. “And then when you’re running the ball you don’t hear anything, but after I got up you can hear the crowd go, ‘Oooh.’”
Looking back at his early days at Ocoee, that pop he received during the Bishop Moore game is one of the key moments that pushed Rentz to better himself in any way he could.
The summer before his sophomore year, Rentz started getting into the weight room as often as possible, and the results showed as he got physically bigger and stronger.
What followed was a sophomore season that saw Rentz become a regular on the varsity team as a utility player of sorts — playing at wide receiver, running back and defensive back. While he is now solely playing at RB, it was at DB where he first made noise with a state-record-tying, five-interception game against Ocala West Port in 2017.
GOING OUT WITH A BANG
Though he first started getting some notice in his sophomore year, it was a breakout junior season that caught the eyes of college coaches.
After moving more toward his current position in the backfield, Rentz started picking up offers left and right — by the time he knew it, he had 20 colleges offering him scholarships. Schools like Kentucky, Pitt and Cincinnati all showed interest, but it was the University of Louisville that piqued Rentz’s interest.
“When I got on campus I felt like I was at home,” Rentz said. “You don’t know until you get on campus what the fit is for you, and I just feel like Louisville is a great fit.
“Then (there) was the bond I had with the coaches,” he said. “Right now I talk with coach Brewer, coach Washington and coach Brown (everyday) … I like the connection that we have.”
While Rentz looks forward to playing for the Cardinals at slot receiver, there’s still some unfinished business at Ocoee.
As a senior leader on this year’s Knights football team, Rentz still has almost a full season ahead to build on the legacy that he has built over the years, and it gives him a little more time to help the program’s future stars.
“My favorite part about playing that leadership role is seeing the guys on the team look up to me,” Rentz said. “My role for these new guys is helping them buy into the program — showing them that it’s more than just the game of football, it’s also about (succeeding) in the classroom. It’s little things like that that’s going to help us win.”