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South Carolina Gamecocks football 2014 roster preview: No. 17, Dylan Thompson

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Battle-tested former backup gets his chance to be "the guy."

Dylan Thompson
RS senior quarterback
6'3'' / 218 lbs
Boiling Springs, S.C.

Recruitment:
Dylan was a consensus two-star prospect and the nation's 64th-ranked quarterback in 2010. Carolina was his only major offer. It's safe to say he's transcended expectations.

College career:
Dylan redshirted as a true freshman. In 2011, he became the second-string QB behind Connor Shaw after Stephen Garcia was dismissed. Dylan scored his first career touchdown that season against Kentucky (Garcia was still on the team at that point but had been benched after the Auburn game the prior week) on a seven-yard run.

Dylan played a bigger role in 2012, getting several chances to see significant playing time due to injuries to Shaw. Although a poor performance while briefly relieving Shaw in the opener against Vandy was worrisome, Dylan shined in his role after that point, putting up big numbers against mid-major opponents East Carolina and UAB. Dylan would etch his name in Gamecocks lore in the finale against Clemson, when he was pressed into action due to a foot injury to Shaw. With the pressure on in Death Valley, Dylan threw for three touchdowns and over 300 yards, leading Carolina to a fourth-straight victory over the Tigers. He had a ton of great moments in that game, but this is still my favorite:


Such an epic moment of futility for Clemson there. Dylan capped off the season by sharing time with Shaw against Michigan in the Outback Bowl, where he threw the game-winning touchdown to Bruce Ellington.

In 2013, Dylan was expected to see the field a great deal, with some Carolina fans even calling for him to be named the starter. However, his role was somewhat reduced from 2012, not so much due to any fault of his own but rather because Shaw improved as a passer and proved remarkably resilient in weathering seemingly dangerous injuries. Still, Dylan did well when given his chances. Although much was said of how much better Carolina did against Mizzou with Shaw in than Dylan, the Gamecocks' troubles early in that game were hardly Dylan's fault, as Dylan had the Gamecocks moving multiple times before drives were ended by Mike Davis fumbles. Dylan's crowning moment on the season was doing his part in leading Carolina back from a deficit in the second half against Central Florida in Orlando, a victory that turned out to look increasingly impressive as the season continued.

2014 outlook:
After being Connor Shaw's backup since midway through the 2011 season, Dylan will be "the guy" for Carolina in 2014.  With an excellent supporting cast, it's likely that he'll put up big numbers. The question for him is whether he can limit mistakes that prove costly to the Gamecocks. However, while he's technically a first-year starter, he comes with much more experience than most such quarterbacks, and that should help him in high-pressure situations.

Dylan is currently considered the 19th-best QB prospect for the upcoming NFL Draft according to nfldraftscout.com. He's got the right skill set (tall, good arm, demonstrated ability to read a defense, etc.) to earn a shot in the NFL.

Trivia:
Dylan hails from the same high-school alma mater, Boiling Springs High, that produced former Gamecocks starting QB Phil Petty. At Boiling Springs, Dylan was arguably as skilled in basketball as football, earning a scholarship offer to play basketball from Louisiana Tech.