South Carolina’s defense on what the return of D.J. Wonnum means for the Gamecocks
D.J. Wonnum wasn’t happy to be sitting out.
The South Carolina football defensive end, arguably the team’s top player on that side of the ball heading into the season, hasn’t suited up since the season opener, courtesy of an injured foot ligament. He’s had to sit and watch, unable to help his defense that’s had its share of issues.
But he has been able to watch one thing he’s enjoyed: the development of his brother Dylan.
“He played pretty good,” D.J. Wonnum said. “I’m proud of him for stepping up and playing big. I’m looking forward to him doing big things.”
Dylan Wonnum, the 6-foot-5, 310-pound former four-star offensive tackle, is only a freshman. He’s played two in two games this season. But in the game before the off week, he played nearly half his team’s snaps, coming in at various points to replace Blake Camper.
After the game he got praise from coach Will Muschamp. Early in the week before Saturday’s game against Tennessee, the coach again mentioned Dylan Wonnum several time.
Many coaches would brush off the direct question that came his way. He was asked if he could foresee a situation in which Dylan Wonnum worked his way into supplanting Camper as a starter before year’s end.
“He’s a guy that certainly, based on how he practices, could develop to that role,” Muschamp said.
The Gamecocks are set to lose their top two tackles, plus a backup, after the season. That could put Wonnum in an early spot to compete for the crucial left tackle spot.
That might mean more than a few battles with his older brother in practice, when the team pits its best against each other.
They didn’t play for the same high school in Georgia, and facing D.J. would likely be a big challenge for Dylan. D.J. Wonnum had 57 tackles, six sacks and 13 tackle for loss in 2017, plus batted down five passes.
He’ll be back in the starting lineup this week against the Volunteers. Perhaps his brother will join him soon enough.
“He’s come along a lot, just getting used to the speed of the game,” D.J. Wonnum said. “Guys are much bigger and stronger. As far as working on that. He’s doing a pretty good job.”