When Adrian Baker decided to transfer out of the Clemson football program in January, it was what it was, he was a loss to the Tigers, but it was one they could overcome easily considering all the talented players they have at cornerback.
When Scott Pagano decided he was going to transfer, it hurt, but the Tigers were able to move on because they liked the development of guys like Albert Huggins, Nyles Pinckney and Sterling Johnson at the defensive tackle positions. It also does not hurt to have Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence as starters either.
However, given the timing of his transfer, and the fact Clemson does not have quality depth on the back end, the news of safety Korrin Wiggins transferring on Friday was a big blow to the secondary.
Wiggins had pretty much moved back to the top of the Tigers’ two-deep depth chart at the two safety positions and was versatile enough to play the nickel back position as well. Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables was high on the graduate senior in the spring, mentioning him several times in post-practice media gatherings.
So what does Wiggins’ decision to leave mean to Clemson’s defense?
First off, you wonder why Wiggins waited until after spring practice to transfer instead of beforehand like Baker and Pagano did.
Why is that a big deal?
It would have allowed the coaching staff to put someone else in his place. A person could have received valuable reps during those 15 practices in order to get ready for the fall.
Also, Venables, Mike Reed and new secondary coach Mickey Conn could have kept K’Von Wallace at safety instead of spending his time playing the boundary corner position. Wallace, given his experience at safety and the nickel position, is likely to move back to safety in order to help provide quality depth.
Heading into summer workouts, Van Smith, a junior, will be the Tigers starter at strong safety with Tanner Muse, a redshirt sophomore, the starter at free. Redshirt freshman Isaiah Simmons will provide backup at the strong safety spot followed by Denzel Johnson at free safety. Nolan Turner, a redshirt freshman, and Kyle Cote are the other two safeties on the roster. Johnson and Cote are both sophomores.
With Wiggins leaving the team, Clemson has no seniors at the safety positions, and only has six overall on the entire roster.
Last year, Wiggins played in seven games and started one. He had 13 tackles. However, he did not play in the last six games of the season.
Wiggins had to redshirt his junior season after tearing his ACL in fall camp prior to the start of the 2015 season. He returned last season, but played very sparingly which caused him to drop on the depth chart.
Prior to the injury in 2015, Wiggins had played in 25 games and started six. He had 54 tackles in his first two seasons at Clemson, including four tackles for loss and four interceptions. He also broke up seven passes.
So as you can tell, the Tigers will miss Wiggins. Perhaps, more than they will Pagano and Baker.