USC Gamecocks Football

The gesture from USC football that touched Ryan Hilinski just after Stanford offered

Look: QB commit Ryan Hilinski throws at Gamecocks camp

South Carolina quarterback commitment Ryan Hilinski throws during one of the Will Muschamp 2018 football camps.
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South Carolina quarterback commitment Ryan Hilinski throws during one of the Will Muschamp 2018 football camps.

South Carolina quarterback commit Ryan Hilinski had already solidified his decision.

Stanford, a school he grew up hoping to play for, had come in with a late offer. He’d been committed to South Carolina for more than half a year, but that chance to play for the Cardinal meant something.

But his pledge meant more.

On his birthday, he reaffirmed his commitment to South Carolina and Wednesday he will sign financial aid papers at a ceremony at his school. That doesn’t 100 percent bind him to USC, but he won’t be at his high school to sign his national letter of intent in December, and will instead be at an All-Star game in Mexico City.

He’s already made his choice by the time the correspondence reached him, but on the day he reaffirmed his choice, South Carolina delivered a small gesture that meant something to him.

“After the decision, it was my birthday, I got some letters from the whole football ops building staff, and it was letters and pictures of all of them wearing Hilinski’s Hope wristbands and saying, ‘Happy Birthday!’” Hilinski said. “I just remember, right after that, I made the right decision. Coach (Will) Muschamp and coach (Dan) Werner reiterated to me that I’m family to them now.”

Hilinski’s hope is the family’s foundation, one dedicated to raising awareness about mental health issues for athletes. It started after Hilinski’s brother Tyler tragically took his own life in January.

Ryan Hilinski committed to South Carolina in April, and his pledge survived big offers from the likes of Southern Cal, Ohio State and LSU. His last high school season featured some on-field challenges, but he threw for 2,771 yards, 29 scores and 10 interceptions with a near nonexistent running game, top receivers and offensive linemen dropping like flies and a brutal schedule that features four games against teams ranked in the top seven nationally.

That late offer from the Cardinal gave him something to consider, but as an early enrollee, it would’ve been difficult to change plans. He admitted there was some temptation, but something steered him toward the decision he made on his birthday and will take another step toward on Wednesday afternoon.

“It was a crazy thing because Stanford was my dream school since I was in sixth grade,” Ryan Hilinski said. “I’ve been going to camps there and stuff like that. It was kind of hard to just say no to them. But I remembered the decision. I was like, they’ve been loyal to me. Coach Muschamp has so much interest in my family, making sure they’re OK. And they’ve been nothing but good to me.”

Quarterback Ryan Hilinski discusses his decision to commit to the South Carolina football team in an interview with Phil Kornblut and the SportsTalk radio show. (247Sports photo)

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