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COLUMBIA, S.C. — Zeb Noland appears set to pull off the unimaginable.
A graduate assistant offensive coach as recently as three weeks ago well after preseason practice started, Noland has been listed as South Carolina's starting quarterback for the 2021 season opener against Eastern Illinois at 7 p.m. Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium.
Jason Brown is listed as the Gamecocks' backup quarterback on the official depth chart released Tuesday as freshman Luke Doty is still on the mend from a left foot sprain he suffered late in practice more than three weeks ago.
According to the depth chart, Noland will wear No. 8, a change from the 25 jersey he has sported recently in practice.
First-year head coach Shane Beamer addressed media after Noland practiced with the team for the first time a few days after Doty was injured, noting USC badly needed depth at quarterback and that Noland could push Brown and freshman Colten Gauthier in the competition.
Not only did the former Iowa State and North Dakota State player add depth, he has won the opening day start for the Gamecocks, a story line no one could've seen coming when players reported for fall camps a month ago.
Noland has played in a college football game more recently than any quarterback, including Doty, on South Carolina's roster, starting for NDSU this spring. He started seven games for the Bison, leading the offense with 740 yards passing with five touchdowns and six interceptions.
He's appeared in 24 total games between his time in Fargo and at Iowa State.
Who starts for the Gamecocks after the opener and once Doty recovers from his foot injury remains up in the air. It'll be a three-man race with Noland, Doty and Brown vying for the job.
This article originally appeared on Greenville News: South Carolina names graduate assistant as starting quarterback