The South Carolina Gamecocks football program getting a player from California to commit is relatively unheard of. Getting a legit, 4-star, quarterback prospect to commit to the USC in Columbia is something that shouldn’t be possible.
Just don’t tell that to Will Muschamp and crew. Ryan Hilinski, a 4-star quarterback from Orange Lutheran, committed to South Carolina on April 4. He is most likely the lone quarterback the Gamecocks will take in the 2019 class.
What he provides
Ryan Hilinski will provide immediate competition for the backup job in 2019, as he is the only true passer to commit to the Gamecocks since Jake Bentley. This is extremely early to project, but unless Dakereon Joyner proves that he can throw the ball well consistently, Hilinski will likely overtake Joyner for the starting spot.
From what we saw in the spring game, Joyner throws the ball hard but isn’t too accurate. It’s doubtful that Jay Urich will ever be the starter for South Carolina. Much like Michael Scarnechia, Urich is more of a career backup.
From day one, Hilinski will be providing competition to the quarterback room. If Bentley stays for a senior season, expect Hilinski to take a redshirt and then earn the starting job his redshirt freshman season.
In multiple interviews, Hilinski stated repeatedly that South Carolina’s current offense is very similar to what is run at Orange Lutheran. He even went as far as calling out plays as they were in his actual offense, a huge sign that he could pick up on the offense quick.
With Dan Werner taking over as quarterbacks coach for the foreseeable future, he is a huge fan of the mobile quarterback. He coached up Bo Wallace and Chad Kelly into signal callers who were both considered among the SEC’s elite. Whether or not Jake Bentley puts up those sort of numbers his junior season, it will be interesting to see his development, along with the rest of the future quarterbacks.
Ceiling and Floor
As far as potential goes, Hilinski has everything a coach looks for in a college quarterback. He has a big arm and the mobility to run when he needs to. He reminds me of Jake Bentley in high school, except his competition level is considerably higher. Orange Lutheran plays in one of the tougher divisions in the California, and Hilinski is regularly lined up opposite other D-I athletes. There are arguments to be made that Hilinski is more accurate with the ball than Bentley, but their athleticism is similar in the sense that they are both pass-first quarterbacks who can make plays with their feet when needed.
In sum, Hilinksi has the potential to be one of the best to ever throw the ball for the Gamecocks. His floor is obviously as a career backup, but he has ‘Stephen Garcia versus Alabama in 2010’ ability, if he taps it. Depending on the weapons surrounding him (Kyle Ford?) and the play of Muschamp’s defense, Hilinski very well may be the quarterback that pushes USC over the top in the years to come.