- Radi Nabulsi, Reporter, DawgNation
ESPN 150 cornerback and Georgia commit Shaq Wiggins had a big weekend. On Saturday, he started the day by hanging up on Steve Spurrier and later his Sandy Creek (Ga.) High School team won the Georgia Class AAAA state championship. He had his 18th birthday Sunday and Monday, after getting fitted for a championship ring (size 10.5), he spoke with the entire Ole Miss staff on Skype.
So much for the dead period in recruiting.
“I was skyping with the whole staff,” Wiggins said. “It was crazy. They were chanting my name, telling jokes, talking and laughing. I have a good relationship with a lot of the coaches on the staff. I was talking to Coach [Hugh] Freeze. They were messaging with me while I was in school, trying to get me on Face Time but my Face Time was not working so I had to get them on Skype. That was one thing we were talking about -- no other school has done that.”
The Rebels coaching staff is making serious waves in the recruiting world, Top offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil (Lake City, Fla./Columbia) just added Ole Miss to his top schools and the Rebels are the odds-on favorite to land No. 1 prospect Robert Nkemdiche (Loganville, Ga./Grayson).
“Ole Miss coaches are recruiting their tails off,” Wiggins said. “Most of the top players -- when they go down there and hang out with Coach Freeze and the position coaches -- feel as if they’ve known them for a while. It is a small town; a football city. It is a program on the rise. I wasn’t considering Ole Miss my sophomore or junior years. I was like, ‘Ole Miss? Thanks for the offer.’ But after my first time down there I have liked them ever since. They just keep coming at me harder and harder.”
Ole Miss is not alone in trying to lure the Under Armour All-American away from Georgia.
“Florida and South Carolina are trying to get me real hard,” Wiggins said. “Coach T-Rob [Florida defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson] is kind of like a brother to me and he comes by here every once in a while. I have been there three or four times. I talk to them on the phone now and then.
“Coach [Lorenzo] Ward of South Carolina calls me almost every week. Coach Spurrier called me at eight in the morning and woke me up before my state championship game. At first I hung up on him because I thought it was a recruiting service. He said, “Shaq, what is going on?’ and I hung up. Coach Ward called me back and said, ‘You just hung up on my boss. Are you trying to get me fired?’”
Wiggins said he is still committed to Georgia but plans to take official visits, a stance that he has maintained since the day he committed to the Bulldogs.
“There are so many good situations everywhere and you really don’t know who to believe,” Wiggins said. “I just try to find out by asking players that are already on the team and by asking other recruits, ‘What did he tell you?’ and seeing if it was the same thing they told me. You have to do that just to see if is it bs or not.”
The No. 5-ranked cornerback in the nation knows that signing day is fast approaching but he does not feel rushed.
“South Carolina, Georgia and Ole Miss have said they have a spot for me on signing day no matter what,” Wiggins said. “Florida hasn’t said that yet. Before Vernon [Hargreaves III] committed, Coach T-Rob said, ‘I am only taking one other cornerback. After that I am done.’ Then Vernon committed and he said, ‘I just want you to know that Vernon has nothing to do with you, that doesn’t affect you and we still want you.’ So I guess it is down to me and whoever else he is recruiting – maybe McKenzie [Alexander].”
The Georgia staff has invested a lot of time in Wiggins, but he admits there is not a whole lot that they can say to him at this point. He knows the Georgia talking points as well as the coaches. Wiggins suspects that his looking around is not going over well with Georgia.
“They came to see me in the Georgia Dome and the saw me before and after the SEC championship game,” Wiggins said. “Some of the coaches told me happy birthday on Facebook. Other than that I haven’t spoken to Coach [Todd] Grantham or Coach [Scott] Lakatos in a while. I know they are probably mad a little bit or whatever but they haven’t had a sense of urgency. That is just the way I feel. Maybe I am taking them wrong. They are making the effort to try and keep me. But I am hearing from the other schools more.”
Wiggins was the strongest recruiter Georgia had for a while, prodding other top talents in the Class of 2013 to join him in Athens. He was essentially an extension of the Georgia coaching staff. Now the same recruits he helped convince to commit to the Bulldogs are trying to keep Wiggins in the fold.
“It is not easy to leave all those guys,” Wiggins said. “I didn’t physically make any of those guys commit but I did persuade them and I hung around with them. I mean every single commit I know as if I have known them forever. Some say, ‘Don’t go,’ or ‘You better not,’ but they all want what is best for me. It is kind of hard to just leave them like that but then again I have got to be selfish in a way.”
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