It didn't take me very long to realize I had made the right decision to come to South Carolina.

I can still remember the moment now, because it also happened to be my second game as the starting quarterback. I think most college football players can remember their first few starts, but this game also stands out in my memory for another reason: how nervous I was.

It was hours before our game against Tennessee, and I remember praying to God to calm my nerves. Not only was my dad coaching my team as a running backs coach, with the rest of my family looking on, but I was going to be one of the youngest people on the field.

The season before that, in 2015, I was playing as a junior in high school. Now I was playing in the SEC, against a ranked Volunteers team, with 80,000 fans at Williams-Brice Stadium watching. I was definitely not in high school anymore.

If I was nervous, I could only imagine what everybody else in the family was feeling. That's when I finally felt a sense of calm.

I've been playing football for a long time, I told myself. Just keep on doing what you've been doing. After all, my dad had been coaching me for as long as I can remember, and his football knowledge landed us both in Columbia.

We played well enough to lead 24-21 going into the final moments, but we still didn't know the outcome of the game until Tennessee tried a 58-yard field goal as time expired. When that kick fell short, and seeing the joy and excitement that our teammates shared, that was the moment I was hoping for when I came to South Carolina.

I just didn't know it would come as an 18-year-old.

Then again, that just shows God's amazing plan. I was fortunate enough to skip my entire senior year of high school and enroll at USC early, but God knew I wasn't ready yet. He didn't have me enter a game until midway through the season, because I needed those weeks to adjust to college football and prepare. In fact, my whole mindset at that point was to prepare for my chance in 2017, because I was supposed to redshirt as a freshman.

It was during our bye week that my coach, Will Muschamp, told me I was going to be giving up my redshirt status and entering in as the starter. That gave me enough time to prepare, but then again, both my family and God had been preparing me all along.

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Thomas Hager