True freshman Ryan Hilinski has been named South Carolina’s backup quarterback, but No. 3 Dakereon Joyner could still play and possibly contribute at another position, offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon said Tuesday.
“Nothing is final. There is definitely a long season and you never know what can happen. But right now that is the decision that was made,” McClendon said after practice Tuesday.
Hilinski, a four-star recruit from Orange, Calif., and Joyner, a redshirt-freshman from North Charleston, has been battling for the backup job behind Jake Bentley since the spring. They carried their battle into fall camp before McClendon confirmed Tuesday that Hilinski had won the job.
McClendon said Joyner took the news well and is eager to help the team any way he can.
“Obviously you want to make sure when you are approached with that news that they do a good job of digesting it and understanding it,” McClendon said. “It has to be clearly communicated and I think we did a good job of that. Then you want to make sure, especially a guy in his position, make sure that he wants to take on any type of other role, whether that be backing up or third string or something else. You want guys that want to do it, regardless of the what their skill set might be or what the situation or position my be, you want guys that want to embrace that.
“So right now he wants to be here and he’s working hard — and nothing is final — but he’s working hard to do a good job for us in whatever we ask him to do.”
Joyner posted a message on his Instagram account indicating he was handling the decision well.
McClendon said the coaching staff has discussed different ways to use Joyner, who is a dynamic runner and was the No. 2 dual-threat quarterback in the country coming out of high school.
“There are different scenarios where we could use him, for sure,” McClendon said. “But the bottom line is, you want to make sure that the best guys are out there. If he’s one of the best guys, we want to make sure he is out there in some shape or form.”
McClendon said Joyner has been open to playing another position.
“Yeah, I think he has indicated that he just wants to help the team in whatever way,” he said. “That’s what the conversation was. Wherever that role takes him, we have to make sure we are exploring it and discussing it.”
McClendon said Joyner could wind up helping the team at another position this season.
“There is no question,” he said.
Starter Jake Bentley said he could see Joyner contributing on offense at wide receiver or running back.
“He’s a very explosive athlete and is able to make guys miss, so I definitely think so,” he said. “He’s definitely very explosive with the ball in his hands.”
Hilinski said there were a multitude of reasons the true freshmen earned the No. 2 job.
“Ryan is working hard and he is doing a good job of what we are asking him to do," he said. "There is still a lot of room to grow, just like everybody else at their respective positions. But he has done a good job of doing what he has been asked to do and handling the situations he has been put in. He has worked hard and earned that spot.
“He’s ready to work. Being the second spot at anything you are one play away, so you have to prepare just like you are a starter. It’s definitely nothing to be happy about and start having a parade about, it time to make sure we get to work because there's a lot that is going to be bestowed upon him in that position. He’s got to do a great job meeting those expectations."