The highest-rated high school quarterback since Stephen Garcia is expected to sign with South Carolina on Wednesday, the first day of college football’s early signing period.
Ryan Hilinski has been preparing for that day in part by seeking advice on how to handle the hype that Garcia admits he wishes he himself had handled better.
“The expectations are certainly high,” Rivals director of recruiting Mike Farrell said.
Hilinski is a four-star prospect, rated a .9731 on 247Sports’ Composite ranking system, almost identical to Garcia’s .9759 rating. Hilinski, 6-foot-4, 237 pounds, threw for more than 8,000 yards as a three-year starter at Orange Lutheran High School in Orange, California.
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“He’s got size. He can make all the throws. He processes information quickly,” Farrell said. “Those California kids, they get quarterback coaching from a young age so they are usually more developed technically, footwork-wise, maturity-wise than some of the other kids around the country.”
Hilinski will need that maturity to carry the expectations already being placed on him by some South Carolina fans. He asked Gamecocks strength and conditioning coach Jeff Dillman and director of player development Marcus Lattimore for advice on how to do that, he said last week on SportsTalkSC.
“They said, ‘You are in this position because you’ve been doing something right so just keep doing what you’ve been doing and don’t listen to stuff,’ ” Hilinski said on the radio program. “There’s a lot of stuff to hear and you have to not listen to it.”
Rivals recruiting analyst Chad Simmons wouldn’t be surprised to see Hilinski get snaps during the 2019 season even though South Carolina is expected to return senior Jake Bentley, who has thrown for 2,953 yards this season.
“Obviously, we think highly of him, just his understanding of the game. He’s a very mature kid, processes things well,” Simmons said. “He rose up our charts after seeing him person, seeing how he conducted himself.”
Hilinski has “all the leadership traits you are looking for,” said Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports. “He wants to take South Carolina to the next level. It was an opportunity he was looking for, a chance to make an early impact in an offense that fits his skill set. He’s a pocket guy that has shown he can make all the big-time college throws in a camp setting.”
Hilinski has a large social media profile, but South Carolina offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon suggested he “turn off his phone” upon arriving on campus, which he is expected to do in January.
“When I get there I am going to ignore everything,” he told SportsTalkSC. “People can say whatever they want to say and I’m just going to do me and do what I’ve been doing to put me in this position.”