Article and photo by Josh Hyber
SUMTER — Ceiling to floor murals of four South Carolina greats take up real estate in Meeting Room 234 at the team’s Cyndi and Kenneth Long Operations Center: Anthony Wright, Tommy Suggs, Todd Ellis and Connor Shaw.
It’s a nod to some of the greatest quarterbacks in school history — something the team’s current crop of quarterbacks can look at every day and aspire to be.
It's a heck of a room and has the potential to be for a while, at least in the mind of one national writer.
CBS Sports national writer and 247 Sports Director of Scouting Barton Simmons, in a Monday column, ranked the Gamecocks fourth in the country in terms of quarterback succession plans. From Jake Bentley to Ryan Hilinski and then to an incoming recruit, the Gamecocks have a “rare case of veteran leadership and back-to-back young talent,” Simmons wrote.
“We’ve changed the room and feel really good about the future at that position at the University of South Carolina,” Gamecock head coach Will Muschamp said before his Spurs Up Tour stop Tuesday night here at the Sumter County Civic Center.
“There’s no doubt about it. We feel really comfortable. … We feel good about our future there. There’s no doubt about it.”
Clemson ranks first on the list, while Oklahoma ranks second and USC ranks third.
The Gamecocks have an incumbent starter in Bentley who played two series and completed 9 of 14 passes for 96 yards and one touchdown in the team’s spring game.
Then there’s redshirt freshman Dakereon Joyner, who was 10 of 23 for 185 yards and a touchdown and an interception in the spring game. He also rushed for 60 yards on eight carries.
“Dakereon from year one to year two really improved,” Muschamp said. “I really like the things he’s bringing to the table.”
Hilinski, a 6-4, 232-pounder from California, threw for 2,771 yards and 29 touchdowns as a high school senior. He was 24-of-36 passing for 206 yards in the spring game.
“Ryan had a really good spring,” Muschamp said.
Rounding out the group is Jay Urich, who helped run the scout teams with Joyner last season. Urich, a redshirt sophomore from Greenville, completed 6 of 8 passes for 84 yards and a touchdown in the spring game. He also lined up at receiver and caught nine passes for 130 yards, including a 62-yard touchdown pass from Joyner.
“Jay Urich is a guy, athletically, he’s going to do some other things for us, but he’s a guy we’ve got confidence in in the quarterback room,” Muschamp said.