Clemson finally landed their first Cornerback recruit of the cycle, but it was ultimately more than worth the wait. The commitment of Nathaniel (Nate) Wiggins on Friday night was the final puzzle piece needed for an elite Defensive class at every position. Last year, Mike Reed flipped Malcolm Greene from LSU, and this year he replicated that feat with an even higher-rated prospect. The 4-star out of Atlanta gives Clemson its 18th commitment, and puts them just behind LSU for the #4 spot in the team recruiting rankings with one less commitment.
Schools from all over the country reached out to Wiggins in hopes of a flip, but this one was decided quickly. It is not often in recruiting that you see a courtship between two parties accelerate as quickly as this. However, the sheer number of connections working in favor of the Tigers made it so. Nate attends Westlake High School, which has a very strong Clemson presence. Former Tiger AJ Terrell attended Westlake. Terrell’s brother, a 2023 recruit, also attends Westlake and is a heavy Clemson lean. Current commit Dacari Collins transferred to Westlake in the off-season as well. Wiggins also trained with former Clemson Tiger Justin Miller.
All of this added up to one of the more quickly developing wins of a blue chip recruit for any program over this recruiting cycle. Clemson took a swing at nearly every elite corner in the 2021 class, and for many of them were optimistic at one time that they could win out. COVID-19 killed the ability to take visits, and dramatically shrank the number of attainable options. That the Tigers were still able to get someone as talented as Nate Wiggins after losing out on Hancock and Green in particular is extremely impressive.
Currently rated as the 120th overall player on 24/7’s Composite rankings, I expect that ranking to climb. 24/7’s own rankings have Wiggins at 75th overall, and it’s only a matter of time before the other 2 services catch up, especially once Wiggins releases his senior film.
Nate possesses an ideal frame for a corner, standing at nearly 6’2” with a long wingspan and plenty of room to add weight to his frame. This frame lends itself to potential positional versatility, as he is capable of eventually playing snaps at Corner, Nickel, and Safety. This length is utilized most frequently when playing the ball. Wiggins’ ability as a reciever and his ball skills are among the most compelling reasons for his potential. He has good body control, and understands how to use his length as an advantage while playing the ball as both a defender and receiver. Some scouts in Georgia even believe he is a better reciever than defensive back.
Which brings me to the next reason I am so excited for Wiggins; his movement skills despite his frame and length are at a high-level as well. I have been extremely impressed with his ability to change direction, and he makes many defenders miss in the open field with craftiness. His acceleration sticks out in a big way, and speed appears to be in the 4.4-4.5 range, but without official testing numbers its difficult to get the full picture.
Really out here dropping folks kids ♂️ pic.twitter.com/hn2iYXxxCl— Nathaniel Wiggins (@WigginNathaniel) December 13, 2020
There are still areas for improvement, of course, especially given how little time Wiggins has spent at the position. He will need to become more familiar with the nuances of playing Corner. Adding weight is a necessity to maximize his ability, with 24/7 listing him at 170 pounds. You’d like to see more examples of physicality as a defender on film as well. Seeing strides using that physicality in press man coverage, and as a tackler will be key points of development to look for in his senior film.
So while Nate is still learning the Corner position, he has really flashed in man coverage. You can see the instincts even on Wiggins’ short Junior film highlight, as he beats a throw to the flats and houses the interception. This is the most exciting prospect Clemson has landed at the position since Andrew Booth, and will give Coach Mike Reed some fun clay to mold. He has the upside to be one of the very best Corners in the class due to his combination of length, change of direction, athleticism, and ball skills.
Sure sounds a lot like the High School profile of AJ Terrell, doesn’t it? The trajectories between the two as prospects are very similar. Wiggins has the things you can’t teach at the position, leading to a tremendous ceiling. This is arguably the most crucial win of the recruiting cycle thus far, but the staff will still look to put one more cherry on top of one of the most impressive Defensive recruiting classes of the Dabo Swinney era on Early Signing Day with Korey Foreman. You can watch Nate Wiggins’ Junior film on HUDL here.