COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A group of reporters gathered around Brandon McIlwain at Founders Park on Friday afternoon.
It was the first time the two-sport star has been able to speak to the press since arriving at the University of South Carolina. McIlwain spent the last part of his freshman year playing quarterback for Will Muschamp's squad. Now, he will spend the first part of his sophomore year on the diamond helping the Gamecocks take aim at the SEC title.
"I'm out here to compete," McIlwain said. "I want to be able to play as good as I can every day and continue to compete with the other guys out here. There's a lot of good talent out here, but obviously, I want to be on the field. That's my goal this year is to play and to contribute to the team as much I can and, hopefully, help us in the long stretch in the end."
According to Gamecocks head baseball coach Chad Holbrook, having McIlwain on board has been a big plus for his team and his attitude has been good throughout offseason workouts.
"He seems like a kid again," Holbrook said of his potential starting right fielder. "He's smiling. He's having fun. I might've thrown too much on him last year at this time with all that was going on and all the expectations that were upon him in both sports. Now, he focusing in on baseball."
During his time on the gridiron, McIlwain was 62-of-118 passing for 600 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed 63 times for 217 yards with two touchdowns. Prior to seeing action on the gridiron, McIlwain played in eight games for the USC baseball team and he's committed himself to helping this team win games this season.
"It's definitely nice to be able to focus on one (sport)," said McIlwain. "There's a lot that goes into it, obviously, being a college athlete and really being able to focus and figure out a schedule for baseball and to help myself have the time that I need to excel is baseball is going to be really good this semester."
McIlwain said he's always wanted to play both sports and he intends to continue playing both sports at South Carolina as long as he can. Having a role in both programs could make for busy days for the Newtown, Pa., native. However, McIlwain said there is some free time to spare at times.
"It is nice the way the schedule works out," McIlwain said. "They figured out with class in between football and baseball that I have a little time in the afternoon. The coaches are also awesome with it. They tell me to be completely open with them. Complete communication. If ever there is something that's dragging me down or making me tired, they're going to be flexible with it and help me out a lot."
Some of that free time also allows McIlwain to watch some film or study the football playbook which would help him come this fall, but McIlwain said his focus isn't on that at the moment.
"I'm definitely going to continue to do things over there so I can keep up with the playbook, keep up with watching film and things like that," said McIlwain, "but that's stuff I can do on my own time. I have time during the day where, If I need to meet, I can meet but baseball is my priority. Baseball is my priority for this semester and where ever the football things figure themselves in, they're going to be there. But I'm definitely going to continue to meet and do things on the football side. But baseball is definitely the priority."