Who is Zeb Noland? Meet the South Carolina grad assistant-turned-QB1 for Gamecocks

Zeb Noland, a former graduate assistant for South Carolina, will start for the Gamecocks at quarterback in their season opener against Eastern Illinois on Saturday. 

Yes, you read that correctly. 

After sophomore quarterback Luke Doty reportedly injured his foot during a practice on Friday, Aug. 14, Noland was named South Carolina’s starting quarterback over redshirt senior Jason Brown, who was named the team’s backup signal-caller on its depth chart. 

Noland, who was hired by South Carolina head coach Shane Beamer in May according to The Athletic, played previously at North Dakota State and Iowa State, where he combined for 2,096 yards, 12 touchdowns and eight interceptions across 16 games. 

Noland is able to play for the Gamecocks due to the NCAA’s decision to give all fall athletes an additional season of eligibility from August of 2020. He played four combined seasons at North Dakota State and Iowa State, becoming a fifth-year senior this season. 

Ahead of Noland’s first start in a Gamecock uniform, here are five things you need to know about him. 

He began his career at Iowa State 

Noland, who was rated as the No. 60 pro-style quarterback nationally in the 2016 class by the 247Sports Composite, began his career with Iowa State, where he played nine total games and was beaten out by Brock Purdy in the 2018 season. 

Noland threw six touchdowns against two interceptions during his Cyclone career, posting an average completion percentage of 60.2 percent. He lost his starting job against then-No. 25 Oklahoma State on Oct. 6, 2018, when Purdy burst onto the college scene with a four-touchdown performance in a 49-42 win for Iowa State. 

Noland announced his transfer to North Dakota State on Dec. 19, 2018 after leaving Iowa State’s team in late October. Arguably his best performance with the Cyclones came on Sept. 15, 2018, when he threw for 360 yards and two touchdown passes in a 37-27 loss to Oklahoma. 

He won an FCS championship at North Dakota State 

While backing up San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance at North Dakota State in 2019, Noland won an FCS championship with the Bison. 

North Dakota State went 16-0 that season, and Lance was stellar by throwing for 28 touchdown passes, 2,786 passing yards and a 66.9 percent completion percentage. Lance went on to play one game in the 2021 season before declaring for the 2021 NFL Draft. 

Noland started the first seven games of North Dakota State’s spring season before being benched in favor of freshman Cam Miller. Noland was 51-for-100 for 721 yards with five touchdowns and six interceptions.

After North Dakota State coach Matt Entz said Noland would not return to the program for a fifth season, Noland was reportedly hired by the Gamecocks in May. He was placed on the team’s active roster on Aug. 17, per Matt Howe of 247Sports, and named its starting quarterback on Tuesday. 

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His father, Travis, is a prominent high school coach in Georgia 

Noland played high school football under his father, Travis, at Oconee County High in Watkinsville, Georgia, where he threw 17 touchdowns, 1,627 yards and four interceptions while completing 47 percent of his passes. during his senior season in 2015, according to MaxPreps. The Warriors went 9-3 that year, finishing first in their region before losing to Cedar Grove (Ellenwood, California) in a postseason game. 

Under Noland’s father, the Warriors have posted a 60-25 record. They are coming off a 12-1 season in 2020, losing only to Pierce County in the GHSA-AAA tournament championship. 

According to The State in South Carolina, Noland discussed the idea of joining South Carolina’s team with his father before being added to the team’s roster. It sounds like the graduate assistant-turned-quarterback went through everything he needed to before making this step. 

He has impressed his head coach 

According to Beamer, Noland has provided “a very calming presence” for the Gamecocks, something they hope will translate for their first game. 

The Athletic reported Doty could return for South Carolina’s game on Sept. 11 against East Carolina.

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