Gunnar Dunaway was an all-state offensive lineman at New Brockton and his play on the football field earned him a scholarship to play for the University of South Alabama Jaguars.
Dunaway, a 6-foot-2-inch, 280-pound offensive guard, was a dominating presence on the Gamecock offensive line, helping pave the way for two 1,000-yard rushers as a senior.
Football at the high school level came easy to Dunaway and he learned quickly that FBS college football was another animal.
“The transition to college has been smooth,” Dunaway started. “As far as competition, though, there’s definitely a difference there.
“It goes from being a “cakewalk” in high school to having to compete every single day for a spot.”
Dunaway credited his coaches at New Brockton for developing him into a college athlete.
“Coach (Justin) Jones and New Brockton gave me an opportunity to get to the next level,” Dunaway said. “With (New Brockton offensive line coach Cayne) Harrelson coming in and working with my technique on the offensive line, it really gave me a huge advantage when it came playing time.
“Being around Coach Jones and Coach Harrelson gave me a mentality that I was the best player whenever I stepped on the field and to play like that.”
Dunaway is being redshirted this season, meaning he will gain an extra year of eligibility but cannot play as a true freshman, and he hopes that what he’s learning behind a veteran laden USA offensive line will help cultivate him into a successful college player, too.
“The college experience has been fun,” Dunaway said. “With me redshirting, I don’t see any time on the field but it prepares me to work at my craft and improve as a player and as a man each and every day.”
Dunaway is eying a conference championship as a goal for the future but he also has even more plans for himself as a player and a young man.
“My goals are to compete for a starting spot next year and to help contribute to the team anywhere I can,” he said. “To go along with that, I just want to continue to mature and help this team win a conference championship.”
In 2018, the Jaguars will breaking in a number of new offensive line as several seniors graduate from this season’s group, so Dunaway will get plenty of opportunities to make a splash.
South Alabama closes out its 2017 season this Saturday afternoon against Sun Belt foe New Mexico State.