Chip Towers does an admirable job tying the Wiggins story together… which is my cue to cut it into smaller portions.
First, if you have Louisville in the pool, consider yourself the early leader in the clubhouse:
It appears quite likely that Shaq Wiggins will end up at Louisville.
That’s according to his father. Al Wiggins told me Monday night that the Cardinals are the leader among about 20 schools that have shown interest in having the 5-foot-10, 165-pound cornerback transfer in from Georgia. The Bulldogs announced they were effectively releasing Wiggins by mutual agreement this past Friday.
Louisville is, of course, coached by former Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. And Louisville, of course, has already claimed another UGA defensive back. Safety Josh Harvey-Clemons transferred there after the coach Mark Richt dismissed him in February for multiple rules violations.
“You have to consider them,” Al Wiggins, speaking by phone from their home in Tyrone, said of the Cardinals. “Coach Grantham is there and that’s where Josh Harvey-Clemons is at. You know, they played on the same side (of the secondary). So that’s definitely something Shaquille and I feel comfortable with. But we haven’t really made a firm decision yet. We’ve still got to put everything on the table.”
Can’t say that’s really much of a surprise. Nor is this:
“I was very impressed with the way Mark Richt handled the whole thing, the way he released him, the way the conversations went with him and Pruitt,” Al Wiggins said. “It was so positive it was unbelievable in a lot of ways. There was nothing negative about it. It was really impressive to see that in modern-day football, that a separation could be as positive as this. I was very impressed with the University of Georgia. They didn’t want him to leave, but they didn’t try to get in his way. They were very professional. There’s absolutely no bitter feeling.”
That’s all of a sort from the man who goes on to say that “…I’m not afraid of attrition… Sometimes attrition is good. Life is too short for guys not being where they ought to be or where they want to be, all those types of things. In the end, you want everybody to be where they want to be and have the best opportunity to do what they want to do. There’s a lot of that going on, but it’s not all that shocking, really.” Which is honorable. (Not to mention a good reputation to have on the recruiting trail.) But it’s a little risky if you’re not staying on top of managing your program’s roster numbers. So there’s that.
Here’s the interesting part:
Shaq Wiggins had been arrested for driving on a suspended license earlier this year, but wasn’t going to be suspended and the incident wasn’t a factor in this decision, Al Wiggins said. The issue was the coaching change.
Scott Lakatos, Wiggins’ position coach, was not retained after this past season, Grantham left for Louisville for more money and the rest of the defensive staff eventually left for different jobs. The Bulldogs subsequently brought in Jeremy Pruitt from national champion FSU to coordinate the defense. The difference in schemes, techniques and general coaching philosophy is radically different, according to Mr. Wiggins.
He said Pruitt teaches a “T-step” coverage technique rather than the “power-step” Shaq has always utilized and prefers. Despite starting eight games as a freshman last season, Shaq fallen back on the Bulldogs’ depth chart. He also had been reprimanded more than once for improper decorum in the weight room and on the field.
“You can’t blame a new coach coming in with a new tone,” Mr. Wiggins said. “He didn’t do a good job of adjusting maybe. I don’t know, but it’s time to move on.”
Kudos to Mr. Wiggins for the honesty there. As for the differences in scheme and technique, I hope somebody asks Pruitt to elaborate on that. I’m certainly curious.
By the way, if you want to know what T-step technique is, here’s a description:
There are two main ways cornerbacks come out of their breaks using the backpedaling technique. The first one I’m going to explain is how I learned, which is the T-step. It is called the T-step because you make a “T” shape with your feet when you make your forward and diagonal breaks.
For example, when breaking to the left, you wanna stop your backpedal with instep of your right foot. Then you bring your left heel to just inside your right foot, making a “T” shape, with the toes of your left foot pointed in the direction you want to go. You then drive off your left foot hard into the direction your left foot is pointing.
My father calls it the “brake, click” because your “braking” with your outside foot and “clicking” the heel of your inside foot into the instep of your brake foot. It’s a quick three-step motion with purpose of changing directions as quickly as possible.