This past weekend, four-star quarterback and Class of 2019 South Carolina commitment Ryan Hilinski participated in the Elite 11 competition, an exclusive event reserved for the country’s best quarterback prospects held in Redondo Beach, California. As one of the top performers at the camp, Hilinski landed a subsequent invite to The Opening Finals in Frisco, Texas, later this month. A gem of the Gamecocks’ recruiting class — which is currently rated fourth nationally by 247Sports’ composite rankings — Hilinski is considered the sixth-best quarterback in the country.
SB Nation Recruiting Director Bud Elliott was on the scene and kind enough to pass along some questions we had, so here are Hilinski’s thoughts on a variety of subjects as he continues preparing to become a Gamecock (edited for clarity):
Which NFL quarterback he pattern his game most closely on
One of the biggest things I model myself after is Big Ben [Roethlisberger]. I can move a little bit better than Big Ben, but he’s one of those guys that can sling it whenever he needs to. We saw that in the national championship game, you need a quarterback that can throw it at the next level. I know when I drop back, I take my big five, I take my seven with the play-action, I can rip it down the field and read a defense, and Big Ben is one of those guys.
What he’ll bring to the South Carolina offense
Quarterback is so much more than just your physical talents. One of the things I’ve told Gamecock fans is I’m gonna be a leader for you guys. I’m gonna be somebody other than just a quarterback on your campus. I’m gonna be somebody that represents the program and community well, on and off the field. On the field, I’m going to be one of those guys who can sling it. I’ve got a good receiving corps coming in — I’ve talked to a bunch of guys and I’m really excited about what we’re going to do. I know with Coach Werner and the way he’s going with his offense, it’s going to be very fun to watch.
Who he’s recruiting to become fellow Gamecocks
There are a bunch of guys I’m trying to get on board. Chris Steele [five-star cornerback from Bellflower, Calif.] is a big one — obviously, he’s right down the street from here. I send texts back and forth with him everyday. Quavaris Crouch [five-star running back out of Charlotte] is another one — big athlete, I think we have a real chance with him. Another name is Jaydon Hill [four-star cornerback from Madison, Ala.] — he’s looking pretty good and I think he’s seriously considering it. It’s going to be a special class for sure.
What he’s looking forward to about the East Coast
It’s all about football out there. They’re all bought in. Those people are amazing, too. They look out for you, they’re family no matter what. It’s gonna be fun.
Thoughts on how in the past five years, half of the blue-chip quarterbacks have ended up transferring
Through everything in my life, I’ve never quit. I’ve been one of those guys who says, “All right, I’m going to stick with this situation.” I’m gonna be that guy that doesn’t quit on his team, his friends, his parents, all that stuff. I haven’t done that in my life and I don’t plan on doing that in the future. I’m going to go to my respective school, and if the guy beats me out, he beats me out, and he’s just better for the university and that’s how it goes. I’ll be the best teammate I can be.
On why he chose South Carolina
I had a lot of good conversations with Coach Muschamp and Coach Werner and Coach McClendon about my playing time and how I’d fit in the offense. Me and my parents felt great about those conversations and we thought, “You know what, let’s pull the trigger, it’s a good spot, they’re honest, they’re saying all these real things.” We just felt that South Carolina’s the place.