The first Gamecock Walk of 2019 was also the first for freshman quarterback Ryan Hilinski who was thrust into the starting lineup after the injury to Jake Bentley.
As Hilinski made his way past the Tommy Suggs Garnet Way. he stopped by for some final words with his parents Mark and Kym who have relocated to Columbia from California. A number of family members came in from all over the country to watch Ryan make his debut. For Mom and Dad, those final words they said to their son on game day and during the Gamecock Walk are what he took with him to the stadium.
"Have fun," Mark Hilinski says he told Ryan.
"Go out, ball out, have fun. Play for your teammates. Play for your team. Play for your coaches. Give it all you got."
For the mother, her words were those which she has told him since the day he was born.
"I love you," Kym Hilinski told her son.
"Just have fun, buddy. We're behind you, we're always with you and so is your big brother, Tyler, and so are the SC fans. Go out there and have a good game."
Kym admits this week has been emotional since she learned her son would be making his USC debut as a starter.
"My first thoughts went to Tyler," she said.
"His brother would be so proud and so happy to watch him play. Then I went to Ryan and I was scared. I don't really watch games. I watch like this (hands covering eyes). I just hope he does our fans proud and makes them happy and we have a good game and a fun game, too."
The story of Ryan's older brother Tyler has been well documented. The Washington State quarterback committed suicide in January of 2018. Much like the death of NASCAR driver Adam Petty led to the creation of the Victory Junction Camp, the Hilinski family has created Hilinski's Hope, a non-profit foundation which helps raise funds for programs that help destigmatize mental illness.