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Quarterback battle heats up between Ryan Hilinski and Collin Hill

The battle for the starting quarterback job is heating up between Ryan Hilinski and Collin Hill as we are under two weeks away from South Carolina's season opener.
Credit: South Carolina Athletics
Photo from South Carolina Athletics.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — We are under two weeks away from the South Carolina Gamecocks opening their 2020 season at home against Tennessee. However, we still do not know who is going to be the starting quarterback.

Will Muschamp said in a press conference on Sunday that there is no time table for when the decision on QB1 will be made. The head coach said he’s going to start prepping for Tennessee with his team on Thursday, but he does not know if they will have a definitive answer on who will be starting under center.

Returning starter, sophomore Ryan Hilinski is battling with Colorado State graduate transfer Collin Hill for the starting job.

“Whatever profession you’re in, you’ve always got to compete,” Hilinski said about embracing the QB competition. “You’ve got to work and strive to get better, and I just came in every day with the mindset that I’ve got to be better than I was last year.

Hilinski took over the starting role in the second game of last season after QB Jake Bentley went down with a season-ending foot injury. Under Hilinski, the Gamecocks went 4-7. The California native threw for 2,357 yards, 11 touchdowns and five interceptions in his rookie season.

Hill is coming off a season at Colorado State in which he tore his ACL during the team’s third game of the year. Before his season-ended injury, Hill started the first two games for the Rams, throwing for 347 yards against Colorado followed by 367 yards against Western Illinois.

The former Dorman HS standout said he expected to be fighting for the starting quarterback spot, even after tearing his ACL for the third time of his career. “That would be my mindset wherever I was,” Hill said about his goal of being a starting QB. “Whether I stayed at Colorado State or transferred to another school or here (South Carolina), once I made up my mind that I wanted to continue to play and I got cleared to play, that was my goal.”

Hill has a slight advantage when it comes to picking up the playbook because he’s already been coached by the new offensive coordinator Mike Bobo. Bobo was the head coach at Colorado State from 2015-2019 before joining Will Muschamp’s staff in the offseason.

“He’s definitely got an advantage with knowing that playbook, which means I’ve got to work that much harder,” Hilinski said. “I’ve been in the quarterback room, drawing up plays on the whiteboard as much as I can, filling up literally three whiteboards.”

Hill had some high praise for the returning QB. “Ryan’s done a great job picking up the offense,” Hill explained. “He’s got a high football IQ, and I think he’s continued to make strides throughout camp.”

There is no time table for when the starting quarterback announcement will come, but it is thought to occur in the upcoming days, if not early next week.