This meeting was supposed to happen in September, when South Carolina football hosted Georgia.
But Ryan Hilinski, the Gamecocks’ four-star 2019 quarterback commit, had to go to Pullman, Wash., for a ceremony honoring his late brother. Myrtle Beach passer Luke Doty, the team’s 2020 commit, was still there, but the face-to-face for USC’s next two blue-chip passers had to wait.
Until last weekend.
“I was walking down the sideline and he touched my shoulder,” Hilinski said. “I turned around, I saw his face. It was pretty cool meeting him. I met his dad and I met a young lady that was with him as well. He’s a great kid. It’s a great family it seemed like. Whenever you have a kid like that, that you’re going to be competing with the next four years, it’s always going to make things easier.”
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There might be a natural inclination toward some sense of rivalry between quarterback recruits. There’s only one job they’ll be fighting over. Everyone thinks they’re good enough to take it.
But these two seem to be fostering a good relationship. Before that Georgia game, Doty said he was looking forward to finally meeting Hilinski after communicating online.
This season, Doty, the No. 6 dual-threat QB in the 2020 class, is connecting on 66.8 percent of his passes for 1,553 yards, 21 touchdowns and only two interceptions, with 322 yards on the ground. He’s led his high school team to a 7-0 record, with some games lost because of Hurricane Michael, averaging 39.7 points.
Hilinski’s season has featured more adversity, as he’s lost 80 percent of his starting line and his top target. But he’s persevered to lead his team to the playoffs despite facing the top teams in the country, another top-10 team. He’s thrown for 2,641 yards, 26 touchdowns and ten interceptions, completing 64.5 percent of his passes.
The pair are the fourth and fifth blue chip quarterbacks USC has recruited in the past five classes. When Jake Bentley moves on, one of them might soon enough find himself as the face of the program, though Dakereon Joyner or even Jay Urich could have a say there.
Hilinski and Doty will be together in the QB room, fighting for the same job, supporting and competing with each other with a common aim in mind.
“We know when we start building this bond, we’ve talked to each other, we just want to win for the program,” Hilinski said.