Josh Kendall

D.J. Wonnum’s consistency has earned him secret nickname

Jake Bentley, 'He was causing problems for us'

South Carolina QB Jake Bentley says a hardworking defensive lineman is causing problems for the offense during practice.
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South Carolina QB Jake Bentley says a hardworking defensive lineman is causing problems for the offense during practice.

The thing South Carolina coaches like best about D.J. Wonnum is that he’s a known commodity.

“There are certain guys who are self-starters and they are a joy to coach because I know exactly what I am going to get every single day,” Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp said. “I know exactly what he’s going to bring to the building every single day, what he’s going to bring to the practice field every single day. It’s really important to him to do it right every single day.”

There is one thing that the coaches don’t want the rest of us to know about Wonnum, though. Or, at least, defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson doesn’t want the rest of us to know.

“I’m not going to tell you what it is, but he’s got a name around here that says he’s Steady Eddie, he’s going to do exactly what he’s supposed to do,” Robinson said. “He’s a talented dude, and we love him to death around here.”

It’s easy to understand the coaches’ affection for Wonnum. The junior defensive end led the Gamecocks in sacks (six) and tackles-for-loss (13) last year. He will anchor one end of South Carolina’s defensive line for at least one more season, and Muschamp and Robinson expect this season to be a good one for the 6-foot-5, 258-pound Georgia native. Wonnum has 89 tackles, 7.5 sacks and 16.5 tackles-for-loss in his two seasons with the Gamecocks.

“He’s a talented, talented football player, and I love him to death,” Robinson said. “One of my favorite dudes and always has been. All he does is do right.”

Wonnum has yet to speak to the media this spring. The Gamecocks practiced five times before breaking this week for the university’s spring break. They will return to the practice field March 20.

“You don’t really have to challenge D.J.,” Muschamp said. “He’s a guy who goes about his business. He’s one of the first in the building. He’s up for meetings first every single day.”

The coaching point South Carolina is stressing with Wonnum this spring has to do with defending the run.

“At the point of attack, there were some things last year as far as holding point,” Muschamp said. “We always talk in terms of keeping your head in your gap. If you have C gap responsibility, keep your head in the C gap. There is always run for improvement.”

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