South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley will miss six weeks with a broken foot, according to multiple media reports Monday, paving the way for highly touted true freshman Ryan Hilinski to be the Gamecocks starter.
Bentley was injured Saturday in South Carolina’s 24-20 season-opening loss to North Carolina.
On Sunday, Hilinski posted a picture of himself on Instagram with the words, “Turn setbacks into comebacks.”
By the next day, he was alluding to his move into the starting role on Instagram, referencing his late brother, Tyler Hilinski, a quarterback at Washington State who died by suicide in January 2018 after his junior season.
Hilinski on Monday reposted the same photo from Saturday with the words, “This one’s for you Ty … Let’s Ride!”
A school spokesman could not confirm anything on the injury front, according to The State in Columbia, South Carolina.
Coach Will Muschamp’s weekly media conference is scheduled for mid-day Tuesday ahead of this weekend’s scheduled home opener against FCS Charleston Southern.
If Bentley, a senior who has started 33 games but struggled against North Carolina, is sidelined six weeks, the earliest chance for his return would be for the Florida game in mid-October. He entered the season with his sights set on numerous program passing records.
Yet Saturday’s performance was Bentley’s third-worst in yardage and fourth-worst in passer rating for a full game, per The State.
During his Sunday’s teleconference, Muschamp said there would be unspecified changes on offense.
Asked about Hilinski in the wake of Bentley’s struggles but before news broke of his injury, Muschamp said: “Ryan is extremely bright, extremely intelligent. He works hard at it, as far as the film work and different things are concerned – nothing’s changed, as far as his preparation. He’s prepared himself the right way the entire time, so I’ve been very pleased with that.”
A 6-4 four-star recruit from California, Hilinski beat out Dakereon Joyner for the No 2 job late in camp.
Hilinski threw for more than 6,500 yards with 65 touchdowns over his final two high school seasons. He completed nearly 70 percent of his passes as a senior and was rated the No. 2 pro-style QB in the class of 2019, in 247Sports’ Composite Rankings.
Still, though he was a highly decorated high school All-American, Ryan Hilinski up to now likely was best known at Tyler’s younger brother. In the wake of their son’s death, Mark and Kym Hilinski have spoken openly about CTE, mental health and suicide prevention.
Ryan Hilinski, in a documentary by Sports Illustrated, said that while the autopsy showing his brother had Stage 1 CTE frightened him “a little bit,” he intended to continue playing.
“I’m all bought into football, of course,” he said, “and I think Tyler would want me to do the same thing. I don’t think he’d want me to stop.”