When South Carolina’s football team finishes the Outback Bowl against Michgian on Jan. 1, at least one underclassman won’t be making the trip back to Columbia.
Sophomore defensive end D.J. Wonnum has other plans.
“I’m going to Orlando,” Wonnum said Wednesday.
The top Gamecocks pass rusher will be going to see one of USC’s top recruiting targets remaining in the 2018 cycle. That would be his brother, Tucker High School (Ga.) offensive tackle Dylan Wonnum, at the Under Armour All-America game in Orlando on Jan. 4.
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It’s a chance to see him on a bigger stage.
“Just seeing him play with the best,” D.J. Wonnum said. “The ‘so called’ best athletes in the country and seeing him be able to compete with them boys.”
USC has signed 20 players for 24 spots in 2018, and Dylan Wonnum is one of the few available options who could boost the group. The 6-foot-4, 279-pounder is a four-star prospect, rated No. 128 nationally in the 247 Composite (10th-best tackle, 18th-best player in Georgia).
Dylan has said D.J. isn’t pressuring him, but does remain in his ear. Dylan Wonnum added there’s some interest in going his own way. His teammate, wide receiver Josh Vann, signed with the Gamecocks a few weeks ago.
D.J. Wonnum was a three-star recruit, but he made an impact as soon as he arrived. He was the No. 2 Buck as a true freshman, and blossomed as a starter this season. He’s fourth on the team with 52 tackles, and leads with six sacks and 13 tackles for loss (plus five pass break-ups).
The Gamecocks finished their second practice in Tampa on Wednesday, the first on a non-travel day, and the players said they’re getting used to the different atmosphere.
“The first two days out here have been pretty nice,” linebacker T.J. Brunson said. “Getting adjusted to the weather.”
His teammate, defensive tackle Taylor Stallworth, had a different take on the conditions.
“It was hot,” Stallworth said of Wednesday’s practice.”Florida weather is a different weather.”
At the time, he was wearing a too-small jersey he’d borrowed from injured wide receiver teammate Terry Googer.
The Gamecocks have an array of off-field bowl events, from bowling night to a trip to Busch Gardens. The trip in some ways is a treat for players, but there’s a balance they want to strike.
“Honestly, when it’s time to work, it’s time to work,” Stallworth said. “From whatever time the meeting is, to right now when practice is over with, that’s the time to work. But after that, we’re going to have fun. We’ll enjoy ourselves.”