USC Gamecocks Football

Young QBs shine for USC in spring game. Joyner makes strong statement afterward

South Carolina freshman quarterback Dakereon Joyner accounted for 245 yards in the Gamecocks spring game on Saturday, and then he made a statement about the idea of a possible position change.

A strong one.

“Not a chance,” Joyner said after the Garnet team beat the Black team 28-16 in front of 25,842 fans in Williams-Brice Stadium. “I would have went anywhere else in the country. I would have went to Alabama or Clemson. You know what I’m saying? I came here to play quarterback, and that’s what I’m going to do. I know my coaches believe in me, and that’s that.”

Joyner completed 10-of-23 passes for 185 yards, one touchdown and one interception and rushed for another 60 yards in the spring game. Fellow freshman quarterback Ryan Hilinski completed 24-of-36 passes for 206 yards and had a 15-yard scramble.

“I think I played all right,” Joyner said. “My teammates helped me play that well, just boosted my confidence throughout the whole spring and allowed me just to play my game. As a whole, as an offense, I think we played pretty solid.”

Saturday was Joyner’s first appearance in front of the media since he signed with the Gamecocks in December of 2017. He played one game for the Gamecocks last year, completing one pass against Chattanooga, but South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp didn’t make him available to the media until Saturday.

Joyner’s first year with the Gamecocks was “up and down,” he said.

“I enjoyed every second of it. Everything happens for a reason,” he said. “I’m a more comfortable player now. I got my head in the playbook. I got on film. I really dialed into what the coaches were trying to teach me. I’m more coachable than I’ve ever been. I have great coaches around me, and I appreciate all my coaches and all my teammates.”

Joyner’s touchdown pass was a screen pass to Jay Urich, who went 62 yards for a score. Urich is a redshirt sophomore quarterback, but Muschamp announced Saturday he play wide receiver part time this season. Urich led all players with nine catches for 130 yards Saturday.

Starting quarterback Jake Bentley played only two series Saturday, completing 9-of-14 passes 96 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions.

“Today was about the (young) quarterbacks,” Muschamp said.

Bentley was impressed with both young quarterbacks, he said.

“They have both been very impressive all spring. They’re really competing hard and getting after it,” he said. “Seeing (Joyner’s) throwing from year one to year two has been the biggest eye-opening thing for me. That was real encouraging to see.”

Hilinski was rated the No. 2 pro-style high school quarterback in the country a year ago. He signed with South Carolina in December out of Orange, California, in order to compete in spring practice this year. Hilinski is not expected to be made available to the media this season because of Muschamp’s rule barring freshmen from interviews.

“He’s very, very unique kind of guy, kind of a West Coast guy,” Joyner said. “He’s a competitive guy. Just working with him, he’s very competitive. We made each other better so much just competing every single day. I appreciate him for doing all that he does.”

The Gamecocks will not name a backup quarterback until the fall, Muschamp said. Overall, he said, he was pleased with his team’s spring and Saturday’s effort.

“I thought we culminated a very good spring,” he said. “We’ve got a deeper team than we have had, more competitive depth at every position. We accomplished some good things today.”

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Josh Kendall has covered SEC football for almost 20 years. He has covered the Gamecocks since the 2010 season. Have a question? Shoot him an email or find him on Twitter, and he’ll be happy to respond.