On Friday, new South Carolina co-offensive coordinator Kurt Roper said there’s a possibility a true freshman could start at quarterback.
Apparently, Brandon McIlwain was listening.
The four-star recruit and early South Carolina enrollee told The State’s Matt Connolly his focus this spring will be solely be on football and work his way toward earning playing time.
McIlwain is also an elite baseball prospect, and was projected to be a first-round pick out of high school before choosing to attend South Carolina. He still intends to play baseball for the Gamecocks, but made it clear football is his first priority.
“My goal is to play as much as I can as a freshman and do whatever I can to help the team,” McIlwain said. “Whatever that role is, I want to do whatever I can to help the team, but my goal is really to start in both (sports).
“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. 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.”
McIlwain was the nation’s No. 3 dual-threat quarterback in the nation, per 247Sports’ composite rankings. He’ll have to separate himself from the rest of the quarterbacks vying for the starting job, including Connor Mitch, Lorenzo Nunez and Perry Orth.
Mitch opened the 2015 football season as the Gamecocks’ starter before injuries forced him to the bench. Orth started eight games for the team, and Nunez started two before earning a part-time role at the end of the season.