D.J. Wonnum: 13-hour drive leads to ISU commitment


Dennis "D.J." Wonnum left Stone Mountain, Ga. late Thursday, with mom and dad and a family friend ready to take turns at the wheel.

 His destination? Ames, Iowa — and Iowa State’s football program, more specifically.

 Once the Class of 2016 tight end stirred after the long trip, he visited facilities and the ISU campus, eventually committing to be a Cyclone today.

 Football’s a big reason. The quality of his education loomed at least equally large. 

 "I had done some research and I knew that I wanted to major in engineering," said Wonnum, who has tabbed as a 3-star recruit. "They offer a great engineering program and that was one of the (things) I liked."

 Wonnum said ISU secondary coach Maurice Linguist bonded with him during the recruiting process.

 He chose the Cyclones over several schools, including South Florida, Cal and Kansas, among others.

 "When I had seen everything in person and when I visited everything, I was like, ‘Yeah. I gotta do this,’" Wonnum said. "That’s my school right there."

 Wonnum stands 6-3 and weighs in at about 220. He said he’s still developing as a player — on the field and in the weight room.

 "I’m not the best that I can be and I feel like Iowa State is going to get that out of me," Wonnum said. "I’m getting better, I’m getting stronger and I feel like when I get there and move up to the next level I’m just going to try to be the best ball player I can be."

 Best student, too. Once he gets used to how far he’ll be from home.

 But his drivers on this 26-hour round-trip journey? What they saw made many returns seem like a good idea.

 "They loved it, too," Wonnum said.


Rob Gray


Rob, an Ames native, joined Cyclone Fanatic in August, 2014 after nearly a decade and a half of working at Iowa's two largest newspapers. He spent 10 years at the Des Moines Register and, after a brief stint in public relations, joined the Cedar Rapids Gazette as an Iowa State correspondent three years ago. Rob specializes in feature stories for CF.