In the 2016 high school recruiting class, new South Carolina football head coach Will Muschamp started recruiting a 2-star tight end prospect named Dennis Wonnum. Wonnum committed to Indiana before making a weekend visit to Columbia that changed everything. By the time February came along a few weeks later (remember when Signing Day was in February?!), DJ Wonnum was a 3-star defensive end committed to the Gamecocks.
Wonnum flashed his potential early at Carolina before a breakout sophomore campaign put him on the All-SEC squad. Injuries slowed his career a bit after that, but he showed enough for the Minnesota Vikings to take a chance on the South Carolina football star, selecting him in the 4th round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
Just like in college, Wonnum had a really nice second season, and he almost made the Pro Bowl for his efforts. However, his 2023 campaign was his best yet. Matching career-highs in both tackles for loss and sacks, Wonnum had also set new best marks in tackles and passes defended and scored his first career touchdown earlier this fall against the Panthers.
Unfortunately, on Sunday against the Detroit Lions, Wonnum tore his quad in a non-contact situation and will miss the rest of the season, including any potential postseason games.
The combo outside linebacker/defensive end was on his way to some Pro Bowl consideration before his injury, but without the final two games of the year on his side, his chances of making the roster are gone.
At 26, Wonnum still has much of his career ahead of him, but with his injury, it is unclear when (and where) he might play again.
Torn quads are complicated injuries that come with varying timetables. Partially torn quads (which is what Wonnum is believed to have) can range anywhere from a two-month recovery to close to a year-long recovery depending on the exact injury and how the surrounding areas are affected.
Wonnum is also without a contract or next year, and prior to his injury, he was believed to be in for a lucrative contract this offseason. If his tear is minor, he might still get that nice payday.