Josh Hinch walked onto the South Carolina football team in 2010 and could walk into his hometown of Knoxville, Tenn., next week as the second-team running back.
With the Gamecocks hit hard by injuries at tailback, the 5-7, 180-pound senior transfer has traded in his black scout team jersey at practice in preparation for a possible role when USC faces Tennessee on Oct. 29.
True freshman Brandon Wilds (6-1, 223) will start against the Vols. It's not clear yet whether redshirt juniors Kenny Miles (wrist) and Eric Baker (ankle) will return from their injuries.
"Hinch is the next man in line," head coach Steve Spurrier said. "He's a good little back. He's a nifty little fellow. He looks like Nick Jones and Ace Sanders. He looks like those guys - long hair and about 5-8, something like that. If we had to play with him, we could do it."
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He was a football and track letterman at MidAmerica Nazarene, an NAIA school in Olathe, Kansas. Hinch played a limited role for the Pioneers football team.
His resume at South Carolina includes the 2011 spring game, when he ran the ball three times for nine yards and had six catches for 43 yards.
Hinch wears No. 24 for the Gamecocks.
You are from Knoxville. Has it been a dream of yours to carry the ball in Neyland Stadium?
It's a dream, a dream come true. Ever since the start of the season, I've been thinking about going back home, debuting, hopefully getting on the field and helping South Carolina to a victory.
Can you talk about going from the scout team to possibly being the team's No. 2 running back?
I was always taught to be patient and be ready. If I get my chance to go in, I'm going to be ready and help us to a victory.
Can you remind people how you got to South Carolina?
First, I graduated in 2007. I went to a private school in Olathe, Kansas, called MidAmerica Nazarene. I was there for two years, sat out a year and transferred here and walked on. The first time I tried out I didn't make it. I didn't give up. I tried the second time and I made it, and here I am today.
Talk about that progression from walking on to now.
Hard work. Every day people tell me, people notice around me, "It's all because of your work ethic. You work hard." And I truly believe that.
What are your strengths as a running back?
I would say catching and one-on-one. I feel like a linebacker wouldn't be able to guard me one-on-one.
Being on the scout team, you've faced the first-team defense in practice. Has that helped you improve?
Tremendously. I thought about that last night. Just from me getting a lot of carries being on the scout team, being with the first team (defense). We've got, in my opinion, the best D-line in the whole country. Every day on the scout team I take on that role to try to make five yards or more every time, to get them better and also help me get better.
What have coaches told you your role might be in the next game?
Possibly just the backup. If Kenny Miles or Eric Baker can't go, I'll be ready for that role behind Brandon Wilds.
You've always worn the black scout team jersey. How was it to put on a regular garnet jersey instead?
Relieving. I just have to stay in the garnet and be able to play my role when my number is called.