Videos with selective players on defense & Notes
March 06, 2019
It hasn’t taken long for Zacch Pickens to start turning the heads of some of his teammates.
The Gamecocks have only been on the practice field four times so far this spring, but that’s enough of a sample size to know Pickens already looks the part of an SEC defensive lineman.
“I’ve only seen him a little bit but I would say Zacch Pickens,” AJ Turner said when asked about the team’s newcomers. “I feel like he definitely looks the part and seeing the little things he does he’s really natural compared to other people.”
Pickens comes in as a five-star recruit and the highest-ranked signee so far in four recruiting classes under Will Muschamp.
The 6-foot-3, over 290-pounder comes to South Carolina as the No. 9 player in the country and the No. 1 prospect at his position in the 2019 class out of T.L. Hanna (S.C.).
Pickens had to overcome a nagging injury that limited him at the start of spring practice but has been turning heads recently at how well he moves, especially as a guy with only four practices under his belt.
“I feel like some people are more robotic,” Turner said. “They don’t really know what’s going on and what to expect from the coaches so they’re moving slow. You can tell he’s just really natural with his stuff. I definitely pick that up.
Fellow defensive end J.J. Enagbare gets an up close and personal look at Pickens every day in not only team work but individual drills during practice and sees how good Pickens has been to start his career.
“He’s big and fast and strong,” Enagbare said. “He’s going to be a great player for us.”
Pickens joins a defensive line group that returns almost every player from last year’s team, getting a few injured players in D.J. Wonnum and Aaron Sterling back in the fold.
Defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson said this year’s line is easily the deepest and most talented position on the field and adds guys like Pickens, Joseph Anderson and Devontae Davis into the mix.
Right now Pickens is working mostly at defensive end and Enagbare thinks there’s a chance this group could turn into something special.
“I feel like we’re two to three deep,” he said. “We legit have depth this year and have people that can contribute different sets of skills that are going to help the team.”
Medical redshirt still possible, but this Gamecock is treating 2019 as his senior year
D.J. Wonnum still doesn’t know if he’ll be granted a medical redshirt for 2018 after missing the majority of the season with an ankle injury.
But regardless of if he is or not, the South Carolina football star defensive lineman is treating the upcoming season as his final one.
“I’m expecting this to be my senior year. I haven’t really heard much from them,” regarding the medical redshirt, Wonnum said. “But I’m training every day like it’s my last one.”
Coach Will Muschamp announced that USC would pursue the redshirt for Wonnum in the run-up to the Belk Bowl last December. The Gamecocks are also hoping to get a medical redshirt for linebacker Eldridge Thompson and have been granted one for defensive back J.T. Ibe.
Of course, Wonnum might not even return for the 2020 season even if he is granted the redshirt, choosing instead to enter the NFL draft.
In the meantime, however, he said he’s simply savoring his time left on campus.
“It’s just taking it day by day, getting better, having fun every moment, because it’s my last year,” Wonnum said. “It feels like I literally just walked into college every day, but I’m enjoying it and just having fun each day.
Now fully recovered from the ankle injury and back on the field for spring practice, Wonnum is trying to recapture the success he had as a sophomore, when he recorded 57 tackles, 13 for loss, six sacks and five passes broken up. He entered his junior season as an All-SEC candidate and finished with 11 tackles, 3.5 for loss, and two sacks in five games.
Wonnum and the Gamecocks defense will face a tall task for his senior year — a schedule loaded with ranked teams and three of the nation’s best programs in Alabama, Clemson and Georgia. But when asked about his expectations for the team this season, Wonnum focused less on results.
“Just us playing hard, getting the ball more than last year. That’s a big emphasis this year. And playing more for our brothers. We did different things just to know our brothers more and play together,” Wonnum said.
D.J. Wonnum Media Availability — 3/6/19
A.J. Turner Media Availability — 3/6/19
R.J. Roderick Media Availability — 3/6/19
Israel Mukuamu Media Availability — 3/6/19
Ernest Jones Media Availability — 3/6/19
Jaycee Horn Media Availability — 3/6/19
Kingsley Enagbare Media Availability — 3/6/19