COLUMBIA — The decision has created another decision to be made.
Ryan Hilinski is South Carolina’s backup quarterback. What does that mean for North Charleston’s Dakereon Joyner, who hoped to win the job but is now the third man?
“You got to know Dakereon Joyner. Of course he’s disappointed but he’s upbeat. Dakereon Joyner never gets down,” said Steve LaPrad, Joyner’s coach at Fort Dorchester High School. “He’s got to make some decisions as far as what he can do. He’s all about helping South Carolina win football games. He hasn’t mentioned going anywhere else.”
Joyner played a few snaps against Chattanooga last season but redshirted as senior Michael Scarnecchia backed up starter Jake Bentley. With Scarnecchia gone, Joyner was competing with true freshman Hilinski for the job.
While it’s unlikely that either backup quarterback would play unless Bentley was injured (Bentley did miss one game last season), USC needed a definite No. 2 man. USC coach Will Muschamp told the players of his decision after the second scrimmage of the preseason Saturday.
The Gamecocks excused Joyner from practice Monday after giving him the news, but he was at Tuesday’s session working at quarterback. USC has Wednesday off, giving Joyner time to think.
“He’s indicated that he just wants to help the team, in whatever way,” said offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon, who said there was “no question” that Joyner could help the team with a change of position. “Wherever that role takes him, that’s something we’ve got to make sure that we’re exploring and discussing.”
“He was fine, he just wants to win,” Bentley said of Joyner’s mood, before agreeing that Joyner can help USC in some way. “I think he’s a very explosive athlete and is able to make guys miss, so I definitely think so.”
Joyner could stay at USC as the third-string quarterback, without many practice reps, hoping for a chance that may never arrive.
He could stay at USC but switch positions, learning a new spot in the remaining 10 days of preseason practice. With his athleticism, Joyner could potentially be looked at as a running back, wide receiver or defensive back.
He could transfer, looking for a new place to play quarterback but would likely lose a year of eligibility and have to learn a new system in the scant few days before the season begins.
“He still has full faith in the coaching staff up there. He just wants the ball in his hand,” LaPrad said. “Timing is not a great thing for him right now. That’s the thing he’s most disappointed about. He’s such a great athlete, it might take somebody a month to learn a new position; it would take Dakereon Joyner two or three weeks.”
Joyner threw for nearly 10,000 yards and rushed for over 3,300 in his highly decorated career at Fort Dorchester, piling up 157 touchdowns. He went 40-3 as a starting quarterback and led the Patriots to the 2015 state championship.
The wonder was if he could translate that to college, or if he could find a system that would take advantage of his mobility to give the QB spot a different dimension. Joyner politely declined comment at the start of preseason camp this year when asked if there was a special package of plays for him in the offensive plans, but he made it clear since he enrolled that he was a quarterback, period.
“Very confident,” he replied last week if he thought he could win the backup job. “I don’t worry about it; just got to compete every single day.”
Joyner posted a message to his Instagram page Monday night quoting Jeremiah 29:11. The verse reads, “I alone know the plans I have for you, plans to bring you prosperity and not disaster, plans to bring about the future you hope for.”
Does that involve playing QB at USC, playing another spot at USC or playing QB somewhere else?
“There’s different scenarios where we could use him, for sure, but the bottom line is, you want to make sure that your best guys are out there,” McClendon said. “So if he’s one of the best guys, we’re going to make sure he’s out there in some way, shape or form.”