Hale McGranahan/SEC Country
CB Jamyest Williams is one of the latest talented Georgia natives to sign with the Gamecocks.

Recruiting the Peach State; picking the Gamecocks’ breakout player for 2017

Welcome to SEC Country’s Chicken & Waffles, your daily dish for all things South Carolina Gamecocks football, basketball and more. Miss a previous edition? Find every edition of SEC Country’s South Carolina Gamecocks Chicken & Waffles right here.

One need to only look at the top signees from the Gamecocks’ Class of 2017 and the team’s current depth chart to see the importance of the Peach State for South Carolina football.

RELATED: Will Muschamp travels to Atlanta to talk South Carolina football 

From incoming freshmen CB Jamyest Williams and LB MJ Webb, to current stars WR Deebo Samuel and LB Bryson Allen-Williams, the Gamecocks have made a habit of finding talent in neighboring Georgia.

“It’s critical for us to be able to come, because we’ve only got 4.5 million people in South Carolina,” coach Will Muschamp said at his Spurs Up Tour event in Marietta, Ga., on Tuesday. “We’ve got really good players and we’ve got really good coaches, we just don’t have the numbers necessarily, every year, year in and year out.”

Reaching into Georgia not only gives the Gamecocks greater access to talent, it keeps the USC brand top of mind in Atlanta, home to arguably the largest hub of SEC fans and alumni in the country.

Breaking out

D.J. Wonnum-South Carolina-South Carolina football
D.J. Wonnum had 3.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks as a true freshman in 2016. (Tyler Lecka/Getty Images)

SEC Country’s Oliver Connolly tabbed rising sophomore DL D.J. Wonnum as South Carolina’s breakout candidate for 2017.

RELATED: Each school’s star waiting to shine 

“Essentially, Wonnum will be the playmaker on defense. In multi-gap fronts, he will be freed up to one-gap and constantly be in attack mode. His job is to knife into the backfield, create tackles for loss and drop quarterbacks, as well as slide into coverage when the situation demands.”

With leading pass rusher Darius English now in the NFL, Wonnum has the chance to become the Gamecocks’ leader in the trenches.

‘Hey, no pressure’

Despite his older brother being the trendy pick for the Gamecocks’ next defensive star (see above), 4-star OL Dylan Wonnum isn’t feeling the pressure from big bro to pick South Carolina …

RELATED: 4-star OL Dylan Wonnum feels no pressure from older brother

“He really doesn’t talk to me a lot, because he knows what I’m dealing with. … He really doesn’t talk to me about it,” Dylan said. “He might ease something in, but not really.”

South Carolina, Auburn, Georgia, LSU and Ohio State, among others, are believed to be the primary suitors for the younger Wonnum.

Two at the Elite 11

Three-star quarterback and South Carolina target Tyler Shough joined fellow 2018 QB Dakereon Joyner in receiving an invite to the prestigious Elite 11 finals earlier this week.

RELATED: Second South Carolina QB target lands Elite 11 finals invite 

The Gamecocks are firmly in the mix for the Arizona native, but Michigan is believed to be the current leader.

RELATED: QB target Dakereon Joyner lands Elite 11 invite 

Another transfer visits

According to The State, former UNC-Wilmington guard C.J. Bryce will take a visit to South Carolina later this week.

RELATED: South Carolina basketball getting visit from UNCW transfer 

“Bryce scored 17.4 points and 5.4 rebounds per game last season as a sophomore, helping lead the Seahawks to the NCAA Tournament last season,” wrote SEC Country’s Mike Wilson. “He was a first-team All-Colonial Athletic Association selection and was named the league tournament MVP.”

 Baseball down two more

South Carolina-South Carolina baseball-Madison Stokes
Madison Stokes has been one of the veteran leaders on the baseball team this season. (Hale McGranahan/SEC Country)

South Carolina baseball received some devastating news on Tuesday: catcher Chris Cullen will miss the rest of the season and shortstop Madison Stokes is out six to eight weeks, likely putting him out the rest of season as well.

“With Stokes out, South Carolina likely will move LT Tolbert from second base to shortstop,” reported Wilson. “At second, Justin Row is a likely candidate, while right fielder Jacob Olson also has the ability to play second. However, Olson has shown a great arm in the outfield and has been a solid presence in right field.”

Cullen will undergo surgery to remove torn cartilage from his left knee. Stokes is out due to an injury sustained when he was hit by a pitch against Mizzou last Saturday.

Carolina kayfabe

The term “kayfabe” refers to the portrayal of pro wrestling’s scripted events in the ring as being real or true. Carolina Kayfabe dramatizes events in Gamecocks athletics through professional wrestling.

Inspired by Muschamp’s comments on recruiting Georgia …

The villainous Georgia Bulldogs (The Miz) can’t help but grin when another top prospect (Intercontinental Championship) pops up right in their backyard — when suddenly, the plucky underdog Gamecocks (Zack Ryder) spoil the party and sign the talented recruit.