The South Carolina Gamecocks have settled on their starter ahead of next week’s season opener against Tennessee, and newcomer Collin Hill will get the nod over the incumbent Ryan Hilinski.
Hill, a graduate transfer who followed new offensive coordinator Mike Bobo from Colorado State, completed 263-of-433 passes for 3,323 yards with 23 touchdowns and 11 interceptions with the Rams, starting 11 of his 18 appearances with CSU. The 6-foot-4, 222-pound veteran also battled through not one, but three (!) ACL injuries.
Coach Will Muschamp said it was a difficult decision, and also stressed the need to have multiple quarterbacks ready with COVID-19 still raging:
“I thought both guys had outstanding training camps. We can win with both guys, bottom line. Ryan’s had a really good camp. Obviously, there was an advantage for Collin playing for Coach (Mike) Bobo before. Schematically there are some things that helped him. But we can win with both guys. We’ve got confidence in both guys and, as I told them and our entire football team, we’re going into the unknown. We’ve got to have all hands on deck ready to play. Luke Doty has gotten more reps at the quarterback position, because what if we do lose Collin and Ryan to a COVID situation? We’ve got to have a bunch of guys ready to play in the game, but Collin will start for us.”
It’s no surprise that a veteran player familiar with the new offensive scheme got the nod over a true sophomore still finding his sea legs in the college game, though Muschamp’s comments seem to indicate a level of flexibility for the Gamecocks at quarterback.
Hilinski connected on 236 of his 406 passes last season, good for a 58.1 completion percentage and 2,357 yards, while throwing 11 touchdowns to five interceptions.
For now, though, the Collin Hill era at South Carolina will begin on Sept. 26 at 7:30 against Tennessee.