Back in 2008 Notre Dame HS had one of the best quarterbacks in the country in Dayne Crist, who at the time was a five-star and ranked as the number three quarterback in the country. Now just a few years later, it appears they have yet another top quarterback prospect in Kelly Hilinski.
Last season Hilinski played sparingly as a sophomore behind a senior quarterback but this year he will take over the reigns as the starter. Hilinski is listed at 6-foot-5 and 195-pounds but says he has gotten bigger and now stands at 6-foot-6 and 220-pounds.
Hilinski has some of the top programs in the country showing interest so far in Oklahoma, USC, Notre Dame, Stanford and UCLA. The Sooners' coaching staff was acquainted with Hilinski and his family quite early into his high school years actually.
"I went out freshman year," Hilinski began. "My family and I went out to a Habitat for Humanity build in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. We were out there for a week. We drove out and took an RV; we only went out there to learn something for our family to get closer for doing something for somebody else. My dad, because it was right by the University (of Oklahoma) and I like the school, I like the program and how they ran things, he gave them a call and said ‘would it be okay if Kelly and I stop by on the campus and walk around and see what it is like?' When we got there, Coach Stoops met us and Coach Heupel walked over and met us and talked to me. I got a tour of the campus by one of the assistant coaches but I was also able to sit in on a quarterback meeting with Coach Heupel and stay for a practice. It was really great. "Ever since then I have been real interested in the program and I went back this offseason for a summer camp. I was only able to stay one day but I got to work with Coach Heupel and it was really good, I really liked it."
Oklahoma's quarterbacks coach, Josh Heupel, was pretty impressed it sounds with what he saw out of Hilinski back in June at the summer camp.
"He said I look good," Hilinski stated. "He said he liked the size that I have and the arm strength. Believe it or not he liked my footwork. People don't think tall guys have good foot work. What he told me, his closing remarks were ‘just go out and win some football games next year and everything will be fine.' So that is what I have been focusing on since."
Growing up Hilinski was a fan of a college team that has quite a few similarities with the high school he currently attends.
"It's funny I grew up a huge Notre Dame fan, as big as you can be. Wouldn't talk to Trojans, wouldn't go near them. It just so happened that I ended up going to Notre Dame High School and with Dayne Christ at Notre Dame now it's just kind of funny how it all worked out."
So far Hilinski has already seen all the schools that are showing interest in him at the moment and says he would like to get out to see them all again.
"I've been to the Notre Dame campus a couple of times. We went up to Stanford. Went to UCLA, USC, you know, since it's right here around town. I'd like to go visit all those schools again and maybe stop by for a game out at Oklahoma or Notre Dame once the season is over so I can see what the atmosphere is like," Hilinski said.
Hilinski already has life after football planned out as he plans to be a surgeon once his playing days are over.
"I'd really like to compete for a national championship," Hilinski stated about what he is looking for in a school.
"That's my goal is to win it big and to play as early as possible. After football is done I want a good education, I have a 4.0 and I take AP classes and I want to be a surgeon when I grow up. So, besides the football stuff I'm looking for a good academic program as well."
It's turned into a recurring theme it seems but Hilinski is yet another quarterback who holds Oklahoma in high regard and Coach Heupel plays a major part in that.
"Oklahoma," Hilinski began about schools that are standing out so far. "Really just because I love the program. I love Coach Heupel, he's a great guy and a great coach and I would love to get to know him more. And Stanford because of the academics and I think that would be a great thing to do with my life is be a doctor."
This upcoming season Hilinski and his teammates are looking to go undefeated and have been hard at work to try and make that goal a reality.
"Just really been focused on this season and winning some games because last year we didn't have a very successful season. We are looking to go 10-0 but you got to start one game at a time. It all starts here, hard work and determination, that's what we are putting in every week. So, that's kind of what I have been focusing on right now, the season first."
Hilinski says distance from home will play a factor in his decision but won't have a major impact. Before his senior year Hilinski says he would like to have his list of schools narrowed down and plans to take all his visits to each of the schools that are on the list.
Stay tuned to Sooners Illustrated for more coverage on Hilinski moving forward.