How Georgia Will Recover from Losing CB Shaq Wiggins to Transfer

Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterMay 12, 2014

Former Georgia CB Shaq Wiggins
Former Georgia CB Shaq WigginsUSA TODAY Sports

Offseason roster attrition is something most schools hope to guard against, and one potential national title contender got bitten with the transfer bug on Friday.

Georgia announced that Shaq Wiggins, a rising sophomore cornerback who started eight games last season, according to Phil Steele's start chart, will transfer to another institution.

"Shaq and I have been talking over the last few days and a fresh start is what he believes is in his best interest," head coach Mark Richt said in a release from Georgia. "We respect his decision and certainly wish him nothing but the best."

Former Georgia CB Shaq Wiggins
Former Georgia CB Shaq WigginsUSA TODAY Sports

Wiggins had 19 tackles, three for a loss, four pass breakups and two interceptions last season, one of which he returned for a touchdown. In the spring game, he had two tackles and one pass breakup and looked like he was in line to be a starter for first-year defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.

Where will Georgia turn?

Wiggins was the lone bright spot last season in a secondary that was high on talent but short on consistency, and joins former safety Josh Harvey-Clemons in the "unexpected departure" department.

Damian Swann will likely retain his starting job at one cornerback spot.

That may (and probably does) scare Georgia fans after Swann routinely blew coverages and arm tackles last season. The arm tackling issue may persist because Pruitt and the new staff can't coach effort, but blowing coverages is something that the new staff has made a point to fix by simplifying former defensive coordinator Todd Grantham's scheme.

Georgia CB Damian Swann
Georgia CB Damian SwannStephen B. Morton/Associated Press

On the other side, Wiggins was a contender for first-team snaps despite bouncing between the first and second teams this spring. J.J. Green played running back last season, but could slide into that cornerback spot after switching positions this offseason. Sheldon Dawson, a reserve who started one game last year, could win the job. Redshirt freshman Aaron Davis has potential, and could walk through that door now that it's open.

The X-factor is Reggie Wilkerson.

The former 4-star prospect who enrolled in January 2013 had worked himself into the rotation last offseason, but tore his ACL last summer and missed the entire 2013 season. Now a redshirt freshman, the 5'11", 171-pounder has a chance to pick up right where he left off once fall camp starts in August.

It's never a good thing when a part-time starter leaves. But even if the writing wasn't on the wall, Georgia has recruited well in the secondary over the last few years. Pruitt's goal to simplify the defense will help the entire unit get better, and Wilkerson's return from injury gives him even more options.

Wiggins' transfer may have been a shock, but it's something that Georgia can recover from. The talent is there, and now the system will be coordinated by Pruitt, a coach who recognizes the importance of simplicity.


* Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. All stats are courtesy of unless otherwise noted, and all recruiting information is courtesy of