Watch CBS News

New Northwestern Quarterback Ryan Hilinski Transfers In From South Carolina, Brings Mission To Give Voice To Mental Health For College Athletes

EVANSTON, Ill. (CBS) -- Last year's Northwestern quarterback Peyton Ramsey is getting ready for the NFL Draft.

Now in comes Ryan Hilinski a transfer from South Carolina. He will have a shot at the starting job with the Wildcats next season.

In 13 games for the Gamecocks, Hilinksi threw 11 touchdowns and five interceptions over two seasons.

He is a former four-star recruit out of high school, who is ready to embrace everything that Northwestern has to offer - on and off the field.

"Coming into this place, there's a sense of pride that you walk around the campus with. There's a sense of accomplishment, and a sense of, you know, I've got to do my duty – both in the school, and both on the field," Hilinski said. "And I think Northwestern's one-of-a-kind – when it comes to an academic program, they expect a lot from you, and a football program as well. You know, their history has been winning games – and that's what I want to do, as well as getting an education, because football doesn't last forever, and Northwestern's going to set me up great for that life after football."

Off the field, Hilinski has embraced giving a voice to mental health for college athletes.

Tragically, his older brother Tyler - who was a starting quarterback at Washington State - died from suicide. Doctors found he suffered from stage one CTE brain trauma.

"Our family just decided that we don't want any other family to go through this trouble. We don't want any other student athlete to have to suffer in silence. We want to erase the stigma of mental health; of, you know, 'You're weak if you speak out about mental health' – no, you're the strongest person that anybody could ever tell you if you talk about your mental health, because it takes a lot of guts; it takes a lot of courage to go out in this world today that we live in and talk about your mental health; that you're struggling; that you need some help," Hilinski said. "And I think in this world, you can't go through it alone."

The family has started Hilinski's Hope in honor of Tyler. The organization has partnered with many Division I schools and multiple conferences across the country, and Hilinski plans to continue the work at Northwestern.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.