Five returning reserves who will start

Wes Mitchell,
Gamecock Central

It's a fact of college football life. Upperclassmen move on. Reserves move into starting roles. Here's a look at five who will be asked to step up South Carolina this year.


BUCK D.J. Wonnum - Wonnum was one of the true surprises of the Gamecocks' 2016 class and served as the backup to Darius English when English emerged at the BUCK to become Carolina's best pass-rusher last year. There's little that stands between Wonnum and the starting position as he worked there all spring and the coaches are high on his ability. Daniel Fennell will provide depth at the position and freshmen Brad Johnson and possibly Aaron Sterling are also names to watch at the position. But it's hard to see a scenario, barring injury, that Wonnum doesn't move into the starter's role.

DE Dante Sawyer - It's hard to believe that Sawyer is a senior, but it's indeed his last year in the garnet and black and he'll look to go out on a high note. Sawyer showed flashes and made some big plays in the scheme last year as he served as the solid and dependable Qua Lewis' backup at defensive end. Sawyer has always been a talented guy and he's versatile enough to help inside on pass-rush situations. But when Carolina trots out there on first down, Sawyer appears the likely starter at defensive end.

OG Donell Stanley - Technically, Stanley was a starter at the beginning of last season, but he missed all but eight plays with an ankle injury and took a redshirt. Stanley started the spring behind D.J. Park at left guard as Zack Bailey shuffled to right tackle and Malik Young to left tackle. Stanley progressed nicely as the spring went on and finished as a first-teamer. He's waited long and worked hard to run out there first, and he should get his chance this season.

PK Alex Woznick - No one likes to follow a legend and when it comes to South Carolina kickers, all-time leading scorer Elliott Fry is just that. Woznick will look to fill the massive kicking shoes of Fry, a job that Fry himself believes Woznick is fully up for. Head coach Will Muschamp has expressed confidence in Woznick and he's clearly a talented kid, who will have to show that he can hit on the big college football stage.

LB T.J. Brunson - South Carolina's nickel package, which is on the field more than the 4-3 these days, will likely feature Bryson Allen-Williams and Skai Moore, but when the Gamecocks are in the 4-3 or Allen-Williams shifts to the BUCK, it's Brunson that will see the field. The sophomore from Columbia played some as a true freshman last year and is known as a great kid and hard worker -- he'll see his playing time go way up this season as one of Carolina's trio of scholarship linebackers who went through spring practice.

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