South Carolina quarterback Ryan Hilinski will not be able to sign his National Letter of Intent at his high school in December because of an all-star game in Mexico.
So the 6-foot-4, 237-pound pro-style passer took an opportunity Wednesday to sign something and take another step toward becoming a Gamecock.
Hilinski signed his financial aid papers at a ceremony at his school, which means South Carolina has to take the early enrollee. He’s not fully tied to the Gamecocks just yet, but there are no indications he’ll end up anywhere but Columbia.
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Hilinski got up before his school and thanked coaches, teachers, each member of his immediate family and the 17 other Orange Lutheran High School athletes signing with him.
“It’s just amazing to be up here,” Hilinski siad. “Thank you guys, I appreciate it, and Spurs Up.”
Signing the papers means Will Muschamp can have unlimited phone contact with Hilinski, though social media makes that less important than it once was, and means the coaches can comment publicly about him.
Hilinski, a four-star prospect and the No. 50 player in the 2019 class by the 247 Sports composite rankings, will move to USC with his family after finishing up the first and only semester of his senior year.
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.
His coach, J.P. Presley, delivered some words before Hilinski spoke, reminiscing about the kid he saw throwing a football before eighth grade, a three-time captain and a player whose impact went beyond skills or production.
“Intangibles that simply can’t be measured by stats or wins and losses,” Presley said. “I want to make sure Ryan understands, we love you here.”
His family has been through a lot, with the suicide of his brother, Tyler, which made national news. The family has a foundation, Hilinski’s Hope, to raise awareness about mental health issues with athletes.
He had with him as he signed a Hilinski’s Hope wristband and a dogtag with his brother’s No. 3 on it.