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Top-25 draft prospect Wiggins leaving Clemson

Written by 
Published in Breaking News
Wednesday, 29 November 2023 18:49

Clemson cornerback Nate Wiggins will leave school early and declare for the 2024 NFL draft, he told ESPN in a phone interview Wednesday.

Wiggins projects as one of the draft's top cornerbacks, as ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. has him in the top 25 of his latest Big Board rankings. Wiggins will have a chance to earn the top corner spot in the pre-draft process after a strong close to his junior season. Wiggins told ESPN that he's not planning to play in Clemson's bowl game.

"I just feel like it was that time," Wiggins told ESPN. "All the hard work I've put in, I feel like it was time for me to declare."

Wiggins is a 6-foot-2, 185-pound junior from Atlanta. He emerged as one of the county's best corners this season and will compete for the top corner draft spot with players such as Iowa's Cooper DeJean, Alabama's Kool-Aid McKinstry and Georgia's Kamari Lassiter.

Wiggins' strengths will be speed and length, as he projects to be a prolific tester at the upcoming NFL combine. He finished the season as well as any corner in the country, including a forced fumble, interception, deflected pass and seven tackles against North Carolina on Nov. 18.

He is considered the fastest player on Clemson's team and earned first-team All-ACC honors for his 2023 performance.

"I feel like I'm the fastest and I feel like I'm the most complete corner in the draft," Wiggins said.

Wiggins has been a productive player his entire career at Clemson, as he registered 14 pass deflections in 2022 and had eight breakups with two interceptions in 2023. Scouts have noticed his instincts and ability to get his hands on passes.

He returned an interception for a touchdown in each of the past two years, including intercepting Drake Maye in the ACC championship game in 2022 for a title-game-record 98-yard touchdown return. (He has two of Maye's 16 career interceptions.)

"I'm a cornerback who is going to lock down the best receiver and bring ball skills," he said. "They're going to get a hard worker. Someone they can depend on and someone who can get the job done and love their teammates."

Wiggins said he appreciated his time at Clemson and credited all the staff, including head coach Dabo Swinney, chief of football administration Woody McCorvey and cornerbacks coach Mike Reed, for their help in his development.

"I'm thankful for Clemson," Wiggins said. "They developed me into a wonderful man. Dabo and the whole coaching staff are so loving and pour out energy every day. They love everyone who goes through Clemson. They played a big part in my development."

Wiggins also thanked his mother, Tamika Lucas Baker, for her guidance to get him to this moment.

"This was a dream that I always wanted and it came fast," he said. "My mom has had a huge impact on me. She pushed me through the hard times. She always stayed on my side and believed in me."

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