COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Dylan Thompson doesn't believe he's done much to show he's South Carolina's starting quarterback, even if he's given the Gamecocks several special moments during his time as backup.
Thompson said that last season he spent most of his time on the bench with little significant action behind starter Connor Shaw during the 11-2 season. So with Shaw off to the NFL, Thompson said he's ready to prove he belongs in charge of the Gamecocks offense this fall.
"I think a lot of people have been talking about me having a great year, blah, blah, blah, and trying to boost me up," he said Wednesday. "But let's be real about it, I threw four touchdowns and three interceptions last season.
"There's no reason for me to get hyped up right now," he said.
There are plenty of Gamecock fans excited about Thompson, especially with the big moments he's brought to the team when called upon.
It was Thompson who spelled an injured Shaw at Death Valley in 2012, leading the Gamecocks to a 27-17 victory over Clemson — the fourth of South Carolina's five straight rivalry wins.
Thompson was the super-sub a month later when he jumped in for a limping Shaw in the final minute of the Outback Bowl and connected with Bruce Ellington on a 32-yard touchdown pass with 11 seconds left to beat Michigan — a game remembered more for defensive end Jadeveon Clowney's helmet-dislodging hit on the Wolverine's Vincent Smith.
Thompson acknowledged thinking the way he ended that season would give him a chance at much more playing time last fall. Instead, Shaw shook off several injuries during the year to become the Gamecocks' unquestioned leader as they rose to No. 4 nationally.
"It was not that I was upset, but it went different than I had planned," he said. "But I learned that every rep matters, every single rep matters."
In fact, Thompson credits South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier for the mental edge the quarterback developed because he was unsure when he'd get called on. "I think that helped," he said.