Aug. 24, 2017
For the Gamecocks to experience success on the defensive side of the ball this season, they are going to need to create a pass rush that makes the opposing team’s quarterback unable to consistently set up in the pocket and pick out receivers unencumbered.
The group than mans the defensive end/outside linebacker position, known as the “Bucks” in the Gamecocks’ defensive scheme, are coached by former NFL standout Mike Peterson. The position requires athleticism, as they are asked to put their hand on the ground to provide a pass rush, while also being able to drop back and help in pass coverage by playing in space. Darius English held that role a year ago and finished tied for fourth in the SEC with 9.0 sacks, tying for the fifth-highest single-season total in school history. But English graduated, and Peterson is looking for someone to pick up the slack.
Senior Bryson Allen-Williams is the unquestioned leader of the group and a ballplayer who needs to be on the field. Listed as a linebacker entering the fall, Allen-Williams has spent much of his time in fall camp working with the Bucks, but is certainly versatile, experienced and smart enough to play several positions on the Gamecock defense. The Ellenwood, Ga., product is considered one of the more vocal leaders on the team and is poised to have his best season in the Garnet & Black. He accounted for 8.5 tackles for loss last season, including a pair of sacks, while also intercepting a pair of passes. He is by far the most experienced of the Bucks, having played in 37 contests including 10 starts over the past three seasons, more than the others combined.
Sophomore D.J. Wonnum got his feet wet last season as a true freshman, and figures to be much improved this season. With 32 stops a year ago, he garnered SEC All-Freshman Second Team honors by Athlon. The coaches are excited about the potential the 6-4, 251-pounder from Stone Mountain, Ga., brings. He worked extremely hard in the off-season to re-shape himself into an SEC-caliber body and will be counted on to be a playmaker this season.
Sophomore Daniel Fennell hasn’t received the recognition of Allen-Williams or Wonnum, but could play an important role this season as well. The 6-3, 244-pounder from Loganville, Ga., will certainly be a factor on special teams. An excellent student off the field, Fennell was named the Harold White GPA Award winner for the defense at the 2017 Garnet & Black spring game.
A newcomer to keep an eye on is freshman Brad Johnson. Johnson, a 6-2, 225-pounder from Pendleton, S.C., has the quick-twitch and athleticism necessary to be a productive Buck in head coach Will Muschamp’s system. Coach Peterson has worked hard to get the rookie with a tremendous upside ready to compete in the SEC this season.
Walk-on freshman Alex DeLoach, a 6-3, 210-pounder from Summerville, S.C., rounds out the Buck position and will add depth to the unit.
Daniel Fennell So.
D.J. Wonnum So.
Brad Johnson Fr.
Alex DeLoach Fr.
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