South Carolina Gamecocks football edge rusher JJ Enagbare discusses decision to return for senior season
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Enagbare discusses decision to return for senior season

After the season JJ Enagbare had last year, he could have easily garnered some professional looks, or have been a hot commodity on the transfer market if he opted to leave.

But, as the Gamecocks transitioned in a new coaching staff and regime, Enagbare didn’t want do deal with any of those things.

He wanted to come back for at least one more season and play at South Carolina.

Photo by Katie Dugan
Photo by Katie Dugan

“A big part of me coming back was coach (Peterson) staying and knowing we legit have everything to win here,” Enagbare said. “I have everything I need to win and be successful, whether that’s winning as a team or whether it’s me prevailing and getting to the NFL. I have everything I need to be successful year. It wasn’t really a hard decision.”

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It doesn’t hurt his position coach, Mike Peterson, was retained by Shane Beamer and will coach Enagbare again this season, but back to back good seasons in the SEC could continue to move the Gamecocks’ pass rusher up draft boards even more.

A likely mid-to-late round pick this year could turn into a second or third round pick if he builds on what he did last season.

After playing mostly as a reserve behind D.J. Wonnum his first two season, Enagbare flourished as a starter in 2020 and stitched together an All-SEC season.

He earned first-team all-conference honors as voted on by the SEC’s coaches, either tying or setting new career-highs in tackles (30), tackles for loss (7), sacks (6) and forced fumbles with three.

He led the SEC in forced fumbles while finishing tied for second in the SEC in sacks and tied for eighth in tackles for loss.

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“It was definitely a great moment but I wasn’t shocked. That whole year I was just determined,” he said. “It wasn’t a shock.”

Now Enagbare will be the anchor of a defensive line trying to help the Gamecocks’ defense get back on track after the group as a whole struggled last season.

Enagbare, now in his fourth season with the program, is looking to build on a breakout season and take the next step towards getting better and achieving his ultimate dream.

“I need to work on weight a little bit and gain some more muscle mass,” he said. “Then attack the game and mentally preparing better by thinking about the game technique-wise. It’s watching more film and attacking things like that.”