College Sports

South Carolina’s backup QB battle is over: Ryan Hilinski is No. 2

South Carolina QB coach Dan Werner on progress Ryan Hilinski has made

South Carolina football quarterbacks coach Dan Werner talks about how Ryan Hilinski has lost weight and bulked up by hitting the weight room during the summer and describes how the highly-touted freshman is in the QB meeting room.
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South Carolina football quarterbacks coach Dan Werner talks about how Ryan Hilinski has lost weight and bulked up by hitting the weight room during the summer and describes how the highly-touted freshman is in the QB meeting room.

South Carolina football has its backup quarterback.

True freshman Ryan Hilinski will be the Gamecocks’ No. 2 passer behind Jake Bentley. Fort Dorchester coach Steve LaPrad confirmed the news that redshirt freshman Dakereon Joyner was told by coaches that he has the No. 3 passer job. USC held its second and final scrimmage of the preseason Saturday.

The Athletic was the first to report the news, also saying that Joyner missed Monday’s practice.

“He’s just got to make some decision on staying at quarterback, moving to another position,” LaPrad told The State. “He’s just got a great attitude. He respects the coaching staff at South Carolina and he’s just got to make some decisions. And I’m sure he’ll make the right one and the staff will, too. He’s just got to figure some stuff out.”

LaPrad added that he was not saying the staff asked Joyner to change positions and the quarterback had not talked to him about the possibility of transfer.

Joyner was with the team Tuesday, USC offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon confirmed, and practiced at quarterback.

“Right now, he wants to be here and he’s working hard,” McClendon said. “He’s indicated that he just wants to help the team in any way.”

Asked if Joyner could help at a non-QB role this season, McClendon answered, “There’s no question.”

The battle for the spot has been going on all offseason. Michael Scarnecchia backed up Bentley last season. Hilinski was a top-75 recruit last season and showed well during the spring.

Joyner on Monday night posted the Bible verse Jeremiah 29:11 to his Instagram page, which reads, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Coming out of one of the scrimmages, Will Muschamp had spoken highly of Joyner’s leadership.

“I’ve seen some very positive things from both guys,” Muschamp said after the team’s first scrimmage. “And both guys are, the mistakes that are being made are both from young players. And that’s to be expected at a certain point, but at a certain point we got to continue to push forward.”

Hilinski, a pro-style QB, threw for more than 3,700 yards as a junior and then 2,700 as a senior, as injuries ruined his receiving group and offensive line. He was a the No. 64 recruit in the country and turned down a slew of power programs after committing to USC.

Joyner, a dual-threat QB, was one of the most prolific winners in South Carolina state history, leading a state title team as a sophomore and only losing three games as a starter. He ran for more than 1,000 yards three times and threw for nearly 10,000 yards.

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Gamecocks QB coach Dan Werner said Joyner had improved his throwing and accuracy over the summer. He also said Hilinski, already an accurate passer, had improved his body.

Rumblings about Joyner eventually playing a new spot started early in his first offseason, when ESPN’s Tom Luginbill said Joyner could be a star at a different spot. When asked in the spring and during training camp, he brushed off the idea. His coaches also said multiple times that he’s a passer first and foremost.

“I would have gone anywhere else in the country,” Joyner said in spring when asked about playing another spot. “I would have gone to Alabama or Clemson (to play another position). I came here to play quarterback.”

LaPrad noted that it’s also a tough time to change positions as the season is about to start. (USC kicks off the season Aug. 31 against North Carolina.)

Were he to transfer, he’d be the third dual-threat passer to leave in Muschamp’s four years, joining Brandon McIlwain and Lorenzo Nunez. Both played some quarterback at their new schools but ended up as skill players by the end of their careers.

“Obviously he was disappointed,” LaPrad said. “You could understand that. If you know anything about Dakereon Joyner, if he’s not the hardest worker on South Carolina’s team, he’s obviously one of them. He’s a fine person. He’s all about the right things.

“He’s just got to process everything, come up with a decision that he wants to do — whatever that may be — and go with it. It’s a tough time right now for him.”

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South Carolina football redshirt freshman quarterback Dakereon Joyner talks about the progress he's made throwing the football and his confidence in himself that he can win the Gamecocks' backup QB competition against Ryan Hilinski.

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West Coast raised. Midwest educated. Southern football indoctrinated. Covers most everything Gamecocks, primarily football.
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