Steve Spurrier gave Dylan Thompson more than a job when he declared the senior South Carolinas starting quarterback earlier this month.
He gave Thompson a pedestal.
Everybody is looking at me, from guys on my team to people in the community, Thompson told The State this week. The fact that they know I am the guy now, they are looking at me.
That means during the teams winter workouts through spring practice and the summer program the Gamecocks will be watching to see how Thompson is preparing for the job.
They are looking at how hard I am going, Thompson said. They are looking at how much extra I am doing. I do believe that plays a role in the offseason. Im going to be in there more than anybody, putting in more time, because I think to have a great team you have to have a great leader at the quarterback position.
Thompson, 6-foot-3, 218 pounds, is 120-of-218 for 1,827 yards, 14 touchdowns and five interceptions in 24 appearances in his collegiate career. He has started three games in the past two seasons in place of injured starter Connor Shaw, and South Carolina won all three times.
Thompson starred in a reserve role in 2012 but got fewer chances in 2013, seemingly opening the door for underclassmen Brendan Nosovitch and Connor Mitch to get into the mix and complete for the starting quarterback job. However, Spurrier said on Jan. 18 that Thompson will be South Carolinas starter, barring injury.
The first question anyone asks is, Whos your quarterback? Any football team. Little League, all the way up, Thompson said. For that, they can say theyve got a guy who is busting his butt every single day.
Thompson pointed to Shaw as a model for leadership but cautioned he wont be a carbon copy of the quarterback who left South Carolina with more wins (27) than anyone in school history.
My way is going to look a little different. But, at the end of the day, it comes down to how hard you are working and how prepared you are, he said.
Im big on the short-term, focusing on the short-term. These winter workouts right now I just want guys to see how hard I am working and not even be so vocal about it. I just want them to see that I am the first one in there and the last one to leave.
Thompson was a two-star prospect in 2010 coming out of Boiling Springs High, where he starred in football and basketball but drew little recruiting interest from the powers of the Southeastern Conference.
Coming out of high school, nobody would have given me a chance, Thompson said. Thats what I like about coach Spurrier. You work, you put your time in and youll be rewarded for it.
That being said, a lot can change between now and Aug. 31 when South Carolina opens the season against Texas A&M, Thompson knows.
I could not be the starting quarterback, thats how it is with (Spurrier), and thats what motivates you every day to get up, Thompson said.
You are playing for a coach that makes you earn your time, and there is something to be said for that.