Often times you hear people in sports refer to their team, program, or community as a “family”. The teammates share blood, sweat, and tears with each day in practice are their brothers. For South Carolina lineman D.J. and Dylan Wonnum, that bond of brotherhood is a literal meaning. The pair of Georgia natives will enter their second season as teammates in garnet and black, with both being on a path that could lead to the NFL. The Wonnum brothers will each be counted on as key pieces for the Gamecocks on either side of the line of scrimmage.
Football Families: Wonnum Brothers Toeing the Line for the Gamecocks
South Carolina, like many other schools, has had success in the past with family ties within the team. During Steve Spurrier‘s tenure, three pairs of brothers teamed up to together for the Gamecocks defense. Dustin and Jordin Lindsey, Jasper and Casper Brinkley, and a pair of Gerald Dixons made it a real family affair in Columbia. The Wonnum brothers now share the field and will look to impact both sides of the ball in 2019.
D.J. was a hidden recruiting gem that Coach Will Muschamp wanted as soon as he saw him play. The elder Wonnum was an undersized and under-recruited defensive end when he arrived in Columbia. He was ranked in the 1,300s nationally among recruits when he committed to South Carolina. Muschamp saw the potential, and that gamble has paid off in a big way. D.J. has developed into a star caliber player at defensive end.
The younger of the Wonnum brothers had no shortage of suitors when he was making his college decision. He was a four-star offensive tackle that was ranked among the top 120 players as a senior in high school. Dylan could have chosen to go almost anywhere in the country to ply his trade. However, in February 2018 he decided to reunite with his older sibling and become a Gamecock. While D.J. has said he never pressured his young brother to join him in Columbia, he was admittedly excited once the decision was made.
The Wonnum brothers were happy to be teammates once again for South Carolina, but their first season together went differently for the pair. D.J. Wonnum was set to star along the defensive line in his junior campaign. As a sophomore, he had 13 tackles for loss and six sacks, and all indications were his numbers would continue to improve. His third season in Columbia never took off though, with injuries sidelining him for much of the year. He was only able to play in four contests, in which he had two sacks and a fumble recovery.
As a true freshman, it was unclear how much of a factor Dylan would be when he arrived on campus. When South Carolina came off their bye week midway through the season, he was inserted into the starting line-up. He took over the right tackle position and made it his for the final seven contests. Even as a big-time recruit, the younger of the Wonnum Brothers knew he still had work to do. He focused on his technique and learning the playbook until his number was called. When he was thrust into the line-up, he was ready and quickly proved he belonged.
Following his first start against the Tennessee Volunteers, he was named the SEC Freshman of the Week. That same day, D.J. was named the Defensive Lineman of the Week, returning from injury to record two sacks in the victory. It was the first time two brothers had won SEC awards in the same week.
As the 2019 season approaches, both Wonnum brothers will be counted on in a big way. Now healthy, D.J. will look to regain the form from his sophomore season when he was on his way to becoming a prominent playmaker on defense. He should contend for all-conference honors this year. The Gamecocks’ pass rush suffered in his absence, but he could take aim at the program’s first double-digit sack season since Jadeveon Clowney. Dylan has solidified himself at right tackle. He will now have a full spring and off-season to get stronger and perfect his craft. The 6’5″ 300-pound tackle will be a mainstay along the offensive line for at least the next two seasons.
Each of these talented siblings has a legit shot at becoming mainstays in the NFL as well. They arrived in Columbia with different levels of acclaim, and a different mindset on the field. One brother is protecting quarterbacks, and the other is trying to slam them into the ground. Talent and hard work have them each on a path to stardom. They will both play a major role in how improved this South Carolina team can be in year four under Muschamp.
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