Ideally, Brandon McIlwain would like to contribute in football and baseball as a freshman at South Carolina, but the two-sport star told The State one sport will be his top priority this spring.
“My scholarship is through football. I signed the financial aid papers through football, so football is my priority,” he said. “That’s kind of where most of my time is going to be spent and working out with the team. If I can do the stuff I need to do and I can contribute on the baseball team, then they’re going to have me do that as well. I’ll be there for the practices and the coaches will be putting that together and making sure that I’m getting to everything I need to get to.”
McIlwain is rated as the No. 3 dual-threat quarterback in the country, according to 247Sports. He hopes that participating in spring practice will allow him to help the Gamecocks as a true freshman.
“There’s going to be good competition, and it’s going to be a lot of fun, but that’s a part of the reason why I decided to graduate early and I’m excited for it,” McIlwain said. “I’m excited to get down there around the coaches and just start learning from them, start bonding with the team and get to know all the guys on the team.”
Had McIlwain opted to enter the MLB draft out of high school, he potentially would have been a first-round pick. Instead, he’ll come to South Carolina and help as much as possible on the diamond while participating in spring football practice.
“My goal is to play as much as I can as a freshman and do whatever I can to help the team,” McIlwain said of his plans for baseball. “Whatever role that is, I want to do whatever I can to help the team. But my goal really is to start in both (sports).”
McIlwain said he has talked with coaches who have had players play both sports in college, and they have warned him that he won’t have much free time.
“They kind of explained to me how it’s going to be, and it’s going to be a lot of hard work,” he said. “But the real main advice I’ve got is keep the grades up and figure out time management as soon as you can. Figure out how you’re going to manage everything with the academics and both sports.”
McIlwain will talk with baseball coach Chad Holbrook and football coach Will Muschamp shortly after arriving in Columbia to detail how exactly his time will be divided.
“The coaches have a good understanding of what I’m going to do,” he said. “When I get down there and moved in I’m going to be able to spend a lot of time with them talking with them about exactly what my schedule’s going to be like.”
While McIlwain is well aware that playing both sports and going to class will not be easy, he is excited for his future in Columbia.
“It can be nerve-wracking. It’s a completely new experience with me being away from home and being on my own and then you add the responsibility of baseball and then the academics, it’s a little bit nerve-wracking, but it’s also extremely exciting,” McIlwain said. “This is the next chapter in my life, and I know it’s going to be a lot of fun and a lot of hard work.”