Former South Carolina quarterback Ryan Hilinski named his transfer destination on Tuesday evening. The sophomore transfer will head to Evanston, Illinois to join Pat Fitzgerald’s Northwestern Wildcats.
Hilinski instantly became one of the hottest names in the transfer portal when he entered just before the new year. After a strong freshman season at South Carolina, he rode the bench for most of 2020, finding himself firmly behind Colorado State transfer Collin Hill and later, Luke Doty. Hilinski attempted just six passes in his sophomore campaign, completing four of them for 34 yards.
At Northwestern, the transfer quarterback will become the presumptive starter for the Wildcats, who will look to win the Big Ten West for the third time in four years in 2021. Fitzgerald seems to have a knack for spotting quarterback talent in the portal, after having landed Indiana grad transfer Peyton Ramsey last offseason. The former Hoosier led Northwestern to the Big Ten title game in 2020, where they kept pace with national championship runner-up Ohio State.
Now, the job will be Hillinski’s for the taking.
“Life’s journey has unexpected peaks and valleys. I am thankful for every step I’ve been able to take,” Hillinski said in a note tweeted on Tuesday evening. “I am grateful for my amazing family and all of those that helped along the way as I chase my dreams. I’m excited to begin this next chapter at Northwestern University. Thank you Coach Fitzgerald and Coach Bajakian for giving me this incredible opportunity! Go Cats!”
I couldn’t be more excited and grateful for this opportunity. Go Cats! 💜 pic.twitter.com/OX1g0CNzEK
— Ryan Hilinski (@ryan_hilinski) January 19, 2021
Before being sidelined in 2020, Hilinksi looked all the part of a competent college quarterback. As a true freshman at South Carolina, he completed 58 percent of his passes for 2,357 yards, 11 touchdowns and just five interceptions. The Gamecocks limped along to a 4-8 record in 2019, prompting former head coach Will Muschamp to go in a different direction.
Hilinski’s competition at Northwestern shouldn’t be too stiff when he arrives in Evanston this summer. With Ramsey on his way out, Andrew Marty remains the only quarterback still on the roster with any significant amount of playing time. Former five-star Clemson recruit, Hunter Johnsons is also stashed on Fitzgerald’s bench, but struggled in a limited role in 2019.
With SEC experience and three years of eligibility left, Hilinski could easily become Northwestern’s quarterback of the future. If he can build upon his 2019, the Wildcats should remain competitive in the Big Ten for the next few seasons.