He’s a man of many names. South Carolina fans know senior wide receiver Antwane Wells by his nickname, Juice. His family used to call him “Dippy.” During his early days of youth football, he was known as “Mack Truck.” When he was in trouble growing up, his mother or grandmother called him A.J., for Antwane, Jr.
Whatever name he goes by, you better believe that the Gamecocks will be calling his number plenty of times this year after earning First Team All-SEC and honorable mention All-America honors and leading the Gamecocks with 68 catches for 928 yards and six touchdowns in 2022. So, what’s on tap for year two?
“I have personal goals with more yards, more touchdowns, and more catches,” Wells said. “As far as the team, I want to show my leadership more. I want to get that championship mindset instilled around here and change the trajectory of this program. I felt like there was an opportunity left on the table to help this program, help myself, and try to bring a championship to Columbia.”
Wells had two outstanding seasons at James Madison before transferring to South Carolina last year, and he lived up to his reputation. He had four 100-yard receiving games, including three in the last four regular season contests. That included a career high 11 catches with 177 yards and his first career rushing touchdown in the win over Tennessee and followed that up with nine catches for 132 yards, including a 72-yard touchdown in the win at Clemson. He also led the SEC in yards after the catch (YAC). He knows that he will be a marked man by opposing defenses this year.
“I like being the person people can count on in clutch moments.”
“You want to be the guy that teams want to double team,” Wells said. “I’m ready for whatever. My strengths are that I’m physical, and I’m hard to take down. I’m going to win those fifty-fifty balls. I want to do a better job with YAC.
“I felt like me and (quarterback) Spencer (Rattler) always had a nice click going on. We’ve been working out a lot together. I see that guys like (senior wide receivers) Xavier Legette and Ahmarean Brown are hungry. They’ve seen the type of season that I’ve had, and I know they want the same thing. We’ve got a lot of young guys that are hungry, too.”
Now, about those nicknames.
“In pee-wee ball, I used to play fullback and I was ‘Mack Truck,’ and I’d run those dives right down the middle,” Wells said with a nostalgic smile. “Then they put me at tailback, and I ran a sweep, and I had some juice in me! I was juking everybody and scoring touchdowns. It was originally ‘Juice Man.’ Now, I bring ‘the juice’ to the team. I’m running around in warmups and getting everybody going!
“My mom called me ‘Dippy.’ That was my family nickname. When I was younger, I used to wake up before everybody. I used to dip my hands in peanut butter and jelly and put it in my hair. I had seven sisters, and the girls would always get their hair done, so I was just dipping my hands in stuff and putting it in my hair. With seven sisters (six older), they used to get on my tail, but I felt like I was the man of the house. I feel like I’m the one they call when they need someone. I can always be there for them. I take lots of pride in being there for them.”
Wells takes that same pride in being someone his teammates can count on, even if everyone on the other side of the ball knows his name.
“I never feel pressure,” Wells said. “I’m just going out there and doing what I love. I like being the person people can count on in clutch moments.”