Zeb Noland is going from coach to starting quarterback at South Carolina.
Noland, who came to South Carolina as a graduate assistant on Shane Beamer’s coaching staff, will be the Gamecocks’ starter at quarterback when they open the season Saturday against Eastern Illinois.
Noland has been sharing reps in practice with redshirt senior Jason Brown, who transferred to South Carolina from St. Francis, an FCS school in Pennsylvania. Brown will serve as the backup, according to the depth chart that was released Tuesday.
Noland thought he had finished his playing career in May when his North Dakota State team lost to Sam Houston State in the FCS quarterfinals. He had already landed a spot as a grad assistant on Beamer’s staff, but he traded in his coaching gear for a helmet and shoulder pads and joined in the race for the Gamecocks’ quarterback job after Luke Doty injured his left foot earlier this preseason.
Noland, who started his playing career at Iowa State before transferring to North Dakota State, still has a year of eligibility remaining. Even before Doty was injured, Beamer and offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield joked this summer that Noland might be needed at some point this season.
Little did anybody know that it would be the opener.
Noland backed up 2020 NFL first-round draft pick Trey Lance at North Dakota State before starting this past spring for the Bison. Noland and Lance have remained close friends.
During his final season at North Dakota State, 6-foot-2, 232-pound Noland passed for 721 yards with five touchdowns and six interceptions in seven games.