J.P. Vonasheks team at Camden County High School is 7-0 this season, yet his season opener is Friday night.
The South Carolina offensive line commitment hasnt played a down this season for the Kingsland, Ga., school as he recovered from ligament surgery in his left shoulder during the spring. In fact, Vonashek hasnt played a game at all for Camden County after transferring there in the middle of the 2011 school year.
I cant wait to play, to be a Wildcat for the first time Friday night, Vonashek said.
The 6-foot-7, 290-pounder was cleared to join practice and hit for the first time last week. Hes expected to be in uniform when the Wildcats take on Brunswick High School on Friday. He can play either tackle position.
Joining any team with three regular season games to play is a challenge. That task is tougher at Camden County, where the Wildcats are the No. 7 in the USA Today Super 25 Football rankings.
Were hoping we can rotate him in some, said Camden County coach Jeff Herron. Hell have to earn that. Being an offensive lineman, that group is a very cohesive, tight-knit unit on any team. He has to work his way into that unit, and that isn't going to be easy. But when youre 6-7 and 290 pounds and can run, it helps your chances pretty good.
The Wildcats success is not lost on Vonashek.
I feel bad because theyve been working so hard throughout the whole season already, he said. Ill have to go out there and earn my spot. I'm ready to play.
Vonashek committed to South Carolina over Georgia in June and is one of four offensive line pledges in the class of 2013. Current South Carolina wide receiver DeAngelo Smith also played at Camden County High.
ESPN rates him the 32nd best offensive tackle prospect in the country.
Hes spent the last five months running, working out and studying the playbook. The workouts became more intense about a month ago as he worked to get his arm strong again. Hes gained 35 pounds since transferring from Glynn Academy in Brunswick.
Vonashek has been a part of Camden Countys weight training all semester and was at practice every day, Herron said.
Hes been involved as much as any kid Ive ever been around thats been hurt. I hope that will ease his transition. Hell certainly be given every opportunity. Its never easy coming back from an injury, and certainly when the team youre trying to come back on has been successful. Hes a special talent. We hope he can do it.
In the recruiting world, Vonashek is still being sought after by Tennessee and Ohio State. He said he might take official visits to those schools just because he can. There is no threat of a decommitment, he said.
They ask me if I could change my mind, he said. I tell them Im going to South Carolina. Im not changing my mind.
Herron is hoping Vonashek can help his current team and get some additional work in that helps his transition to South Carolina.
He needs to get some playing time and experience under his belt, Herron said. It wouldnt be good going into the SEC after a whole year of being out of football. Hopefully he can accomplish that in the rest of our season because he needs that experience.