Q & A with Wide Receivers Coach Matt Wannebo

Following the blow-out of Tn. Martin, Gamecockillustrated.com, sat down with wide receievers coach Matt Wannebo. Wannebo, a former college quarterback, is a nine year veteran of the Gamecock staff, but is in his first year coaching wide receivers.

Q: How has the transition from defensive coach to wide receivers coach been for you?

A: Its been really good. It started in the Spring. Coach Crowe asked me to do it. I figured you ask the players to switch positions and expect them to do it . . . for the team because you think its going to work out best. So- I took a players approach and [decided] I was going to do what’s best for the team and what’s best for the program. The transition has been good because we had older kids at the [wide receiver] position. Jeff did a good job last year. So I said [to the players] if something is being done different and you like the way it was before let me know.

Q: Does going up against JSU’s outstanding corners in practice help our wide receivers?

A: Absolutely. [It gives our guys a chance to see if certain new things are going to work because its against good competition.] Also, you don’t have to push them or tell them to give effort because [when our wide receivers go against our defensive backs] they know that they are going to be embarrassed if they don’t do as well as they can …

Q: We have really shared the wealth this year among the receivers. How is the chemistry?

A: Its really good because we have good kids at the position that are very unselfish, they don’t complain and they don’t worry about certain things. [For instance, against] Alabama A & M, Greg Smith was open a couple of times. Greg never came back and said “throw me the ball, I’m open.” Before that, we were playing Georgia Tech, [James] Wilkerson was open a couple of times and never complained about the ball not being thrown to him. So when you have older guys that are setting that example, . . . it makes things a little bit easier.

Also, Ryan Perrilloux does such a nice job of sharing the ball and moving the ball around and making sure they are doing the right things. It helps you as a coach and helps you as an offense. Its like I told them- [Ryan] is like a point guard in basketball, everybody better run their route and get their head around because you don’t know where the ball is going to go. He can throw every pass and he can thow to every spot so you better be ready. [The receivers] know that if they don’t do the route or drop the ball, next time out its going to someone else. He goes to who he trusts and who does things right.

Q: Comment on James Wilkerson (22 catches/4tds in 09):

A: His experience pays off real well for him. He is low keyed about things. He doesn’t like you to think he is as good of a player as he is. He likes to sneak up on you and surprise you how well he can do things. [Just when you don’t respect him] he will hit you. . . . He likes to kind of lay back and low key it and then just jump all over you. He has very good skills, hand set skills catching the ball. He is a very good receiver, very good blocker. [Coming into the season], I didn’t know he was that good of a player.

Q: Tell us about James Shaw, a wide receiver that has really come into his own this year (14 catches, 2TDs):

A: It was a matter of putting him in the right spot [after multiple position changes] and leaving him there. . . We have kind of filled him in [spots] as needed, which might have been a little bit [difficult for] him but it goes back to [our] guys being unselfish. Wherever James was needed, he went ahead and did it. Now he is playing one position and able to concentrate on that.

Q: How about another guy that has emerged, La Ray Williams (9 catches/21.9 yards per catch):

A: He is getting the opportunity. We always talk about the third year in the program, get your feet underneath you, get some experience some of the seniors graduate now its his chance to go ahead and play. . . .

Q: What about the freshman sensation Alan Bonner, a guy that was highly recruited, how did you all land him and what are your thoughts as his position coach:

A: That was Ronnie Letson that recruited him and did a nice job of finding him. [Sometimes you can’t tell everything on tape], after Ronnie saw him in person he made it a priority that [Bonner] was someone we were going to go after. . . . Ronnie did a really nice job of moving in and going ahead and talking to him and getting him to come here and visit and the timing was right. . .

[Alan] is just another added dimension. You try to get as many good players as you can at a position. At a freshman, he just adds another good player to our [wide receiver] position.

Q: Is Jeff Cameron (23 catches in 08′ redshirting this year) still in the program?

A: Yes. He is sitting out right now. . . But the coaches on defense keep coming over and saying he is doing a great job of practicing against them.

Q: Are you excited about having him, John Houston Whiddon and all the young guys that will be coming back next year:

A: The nice thing about it is you have three seniors [La Ray will be the third one] that the younger guys learning in can learn from the seniors how to do things right, how to play the game the right way, how to work the right way and do things that you are supposed to do. That’s a little bit of what Greg Smith brings to the program [this year] he’s been there before and done that and people see that, but he’s such a sharing person that makes sure he does things the way they are supposed to be done. Everybody sees that .. . that they learn that they should be unselfish and play the game the same way he plays it.

Q: Is it hard to keep this team grounded given the way you have dominated FCS opponents?

A: When they are around us, they do the right things and say the right things. [However,] when they leave us and get on campus, . . . whenever everybody starts patting them on the back, . . .you wonder if they are going to stay grounded. But [these guys] have such a good work ethic when they come over here . . . they figure if they prepare right and practice well they ought to do well.

Q: Tell us about Ryan Perrilloux:

A: I tell the scouts that [despite being the #1 recruit in America and MVP of the SEC Championship Game], he came into the program here and didn’t have any sense of entitlement. He did not demand or expect anything. He treats everybody on the team, whether you are walk-on, scholarship, equipment man, trainer, whatever- he treats everybody the same way. He has a great personality. He keeps everybody involved, he keeps everybody going. He has the days when he is in a bad mood, . . but the thing that . . . people don’t realize, [is despite all of his laurels], he is great with everybody on the team no matter who you are.

Thanks Coach Wannebo.

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