COLUMBIA -- Mon Denson probably would have laughed if someone had told him his junior season would include not one but two 100-yard performances.
In a career marred with injury after injury, Denson had to use the first few games this season to get healthy. After that, he had the most productive year since arriving on campus in 2015.
“It’s a blessing coming back from all the injuries I had,” Denson said. “It was a struggle at the beginning of the year but I’m just glad I’m healthy.”
After missing some of training camp, Denson bounced in and out of games the first few weeks of the season with a hamstring injury.
He played in just two games, picking up 36 total yards before the team’s bye week, but got fully healthy with the time off and has been full steam ahead since then.
Over the last five games, he’s rushed for 384 yards with two 100-yard performances over his last six games, including a career-high 113 yards against Akron.
He’s had a career-best 83 carries this year and had double-digit attempts in four of the Gamecocks’ last five games with two starts.
Because he’s battled injury frequently since his freshman year, this is the first season Denson’s seen action since his senior year at LaGrange (Ga.) High School, where he rushed for 1,300 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Being on a big stage like this, he still tries to represent his hometown any chance he gets, wearing “Trap Co.” on his eye black Saturday to represent Troup County, Georgia, where he grew up.
“It’s where I’m from. I like to think of them,” he said. “I talk about where I’m from a lot. Not too many people make, so I’m blessed to be here.”
Outside of Rico Dowdle, who leads the team with 633 total yards, Denson is the second most productive back. He’s racked up a career-high 417 yards and is averaging five yards per carry this season.
Before the year started, Will Muschamp said he had confidence in all four of the Gamecocks’ veteran backs — Dowdle, Denson, Ty’Son Williams and A.J. Turner — and it took Denson a little while, but he showed why this season.
With Dowdle and Williams missing some time with injury and Turner taking reps at defensive back, Denson’s been the most consistent back during the last half of the season.
“In our league, you’re not going to make it with one or two. I’ve been in this league a long time; you take to many hard hits. It’s not unlike the NFL. You’re going to get hit a lot and you have to be able to have guys step in and play at a high level,” Muschamp said after the Ole Miss game.
“Mon’s a starter to me, and he’s finally healthy.”
True freshmen Dylan Wonnum and Jaycee Horn were named to the 2018 SEC All-Freshmen team as selected by the league’s 14 head football coaches.