USC Gamecocks Football

Gamecock freshman QB Ryan Hilinski: ‘I am wearing Tyler on my jersey’

South Carolina quarterback Ryan Hilinski wears No. 3 for a reason.

The Gamecock freshman, who made his first college start last week, dons No. 3 to honor his late brother Tyler Hilinski.

Ryan spoke of that special bond between him and his brother during a segment on ESPN’s College GameDay on Saturday.

The feature showed how the Hilinskis have dealt with Tyler’s death and their journey that led them to South Carolina.

“I know it is just a jersey. I am wearing Tyler on my jersey. But I am wearing it for all the people who are going through things in their life,” Hilinski said in the piece.

Tyler Hilinski will be remembered at the start of the third quarter Saturday against Alabama.

The plan is for fans in Williams-Brice to stand for the first play of of the third quarter and raise up the number three.

South Carolina AD Ray Tanner tweeted this week: “A very important cause. You have our support!”

The Alabama game comes four days after World Suicide Prevention Day.

Tyler’s death shocked fans around college football, and Hilinski talked about taking the field for the first time during his senior season at Orange Lutheran High School.

After Hilinski threw a touchdown pass in first game of his senior season, he said he broke down for the first time since his brother’s passing.

“I just lost it and started crying,” Hiinski said. “.. I hadn’t truly cried since he passed. And when I was on the field that night, I think Tyler said, ‘You are good, you good. You can let it out.’”

Hilinski threw for 259 yards and two touchdowns in his debut last week against Charleston Southern. After both touchdown passes, he pointed to the sky in memory of his brother.

“What made me and Tyler happy was football,” Ryan said. “... was hard to find happiness again. Finally found myself being happy again.”

Lou Bezjak is the High School Sports Prep Coordinator for The State and Island Packet. He has covered high school sports in South Carolina for 16 years and is a two-time South Carolina Sports Writer of the Year by the National Sports Media Association.