For the University of Louisville to continue to be home of one of the nation's toughest defensive squads, the Cardinals will need solid production from a secondary that welcomes new starters at each position. While the need to replace each starter from a year prior is enough to make most coaches stay up late at night with concern, the worry at U of L has been lessened by the restocking of the roster through solid recruiting and talented transfers.
Redshirt sophomore Shaq Wiggins, who spent 2014 practicing with the Cardinals after transferring from Georgia, is expected to fill a starting cornerback spot this fall.
A four-star prospect out of Sandy Creek High School in Tyrone, Geo., Wiggins made an immediate impact as a true freshman in Athens. He appeared in 12 games, starting nine, and led the Bulldogs with two interceptions.
After holding down the first unit spot during the early stages of spring practice, Wiggins suffered an arm injury while providing excellent coverage on a deeply thrown ball. He remained on the ground, clearly in pain, for quite a few minutes. While the elbow injury wasn't a serious one, it did sideline him for the remainder of spring.
Prior to the injury, Wiggins was proving to be difficult to throw against. He also proved to be one of the more vocal members of the team and it could be said that shares his confidence with those near him and those he's defending. While he didn't have much time on the field this spring, he did record multiple interceptions and totaled a number of pass breakups before the injury.
“They tried to take some shots on him and he was able to play the ball down the field and be in position,” said U of L defensive coordinator Todd Grantham.
This summer, fully recovered from the elbow injury, Wiggins is performing well in individual workouts as he preps for fall camp. He's also helping to keep his fellow defensive players loose, while possibly also getting under the skin of opposing receivers.
“Shaq's doing real good,” U of L head coach Bobby Petrino said prior to participating in Saturday's Kosair Children's Hospital's 'Play Smart, Eat Right' event . “Shaq's back, playing hard and moving his mouth. I think one thing Shaq likes to do is talk, and he keeps us all, some smiling and some frowning, it just depends on what he says.”
As evidenced by his early performance in spring, Wiggins has the ability to back up the confidence that he verbally exudes. Petrino expressed confidence that the 5-foot-10, 170-pound cornerback will continue to perform at a high level this fall.
“I think so,” said Petrino. “We're going to find out.
“That's the fun thing about him being here for a year and practicing for a year, is we've had to listen to that for a year and now he gets to show us all,” he said. “I think he'll be good.”