Evan Hinson hasn’t played a down of football for South Carolina. He’s been part of a Gamecocks team that reached historic heights.
What he got a taste of on the hardwood, he wants to bring to Williams-Brice.
Hinson had to miss all of spring practice this year. In just about every other South Carolina men’s basketball season, the two-sport athlete would have been able to return for some of spring football.
But Hinson was busy going to the Final Four.
“That was cool,” Hinson said. “Spending time with basketball just helped me be more athletic from another sport, and you can take that to football and use it in a better way.”
The 6-foot-5 tight end played in eight games for USC, but he did have four points and a couple boards to give the Gamecocks a spark in an SEC Tournament game.
He’ll have a different task with the football team, looking for a role at a position loaded with experience and talent. Helping him, he’s got the attention of his coaches.
“He looks really good,” Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp said. “After the Final Four, he was in our building the next time he could be in there. He’s up over 240 (pounds). He looks great and runs extremely well. Athletically, he’s a guy who certainly can contribute on special teams, and, depending on how he competes through camp, he should help us at tight end. We’re counting on him.”
The 240 number is key. When Hinson signed with South Carolina, he was listed at 220 pounds and possessed what he agreed was more of a “basketball body.”
The aim was to bulk up, fill out that tall frame while still retaining the athleticism that allowed for his two-sport potential. That’s not the easiest thing with an extra sport’s season to go through, but he still managed to add some weight.
He said he came to campus at 230, lost some weight and then gained it back under the guidance of strength coach Jeff Dillman and his staff.
Although he’s an intriguing player, the fight for playing time will be a tough one. Hayden Hurst is the top option off a record-setting 2016. K.C. Crosby and Jacob August got a lot of No. 2 tight end work last year, with Kiel Pollard at the periphery of the rotation. Kyle Markway is coming off an injury but played as a true freshman and is a big body.
There likely will be opportunities on special teams, as tall, big, fast players are always useful there, but Hinson said the staff hasn’t talked to him much about that.
Instead, he spent his (non-basketball) offseason working on the finer points of the offense, with goals of catching passes.
“Just mentally learning some of the plays,” Hinson said. “Learning the patterns, learning the defensive plays, what to do on (the) defense.”