TYRONE, Ga. -- Less than 24 hours before the SEC championship game, three members of the Georgia Bulldogs’ coaching staff were in Tyrone, Ga. Assistant head coach Rodney Garner, secondary coach Scott Lakatos and inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti were at Sandy Creek High School watching the Patriots host a playoff game against Burke County (Ga.) High School. On the field was Georgia’s top-rated verbal commitment, cornerback Shaq Wiggins.
The fact that the coaches would be playing Alabama for a chance at the national title was not lost on the ESPN 150 four-star recruit.
“They came to see me play right before the SEC game and that meant a lot,” Wiggins said. “I saw Lakatos and Garner on Sunday. They answered some more questions that I needed to get answered and stuff like that. But I am still going to take my five official visits. None of that has changed.”
Wiggins admitted last week that he was having second thoughts about the Bulldogs, especially in light of the additions to the class in the secondary and visits from coaches at Ole Miss, South Carolina, Florida and Texas A&M.
Checking in on Wiggins on the day before and the day after the SEC championship game demonstrates just how important the Georgia coaches think Wiggins is to their 2013 recruiting class.
“I think they are coming back this week but I am not sure,” Wiggins said. “I know I am going up there for my official visit this weekend. They are having the gala, a celebration for the team.”
Wiggins will have a lot of company during his visit as a number of the Georgia commits will take their official visit Friday. The 5-foot-10, 165-pound cornerback helped to recruit many of Georgia’s committed prospects, including ESPN 150 athlete Tramel Terry (Goose Creek, S.C./Goose Creek). The four-star talent decommitted from Georgia once, then recommitted, and then started having second thoughts again. After going through a self-imposed media blackout, Terry called Mark Richt on Sunday and reaffirmed his commitment to Georgia. But he spoke to Wiggins first.
“We talk regularly, almost every week through texts or through calls,” Wiggins said. “We talk about how he feels and every time he starts thinking about going to a different school and he calls me and we talk about it. He feels like I am a person he can talk to.”
Terry’s comfort with Wiggins is understandable since they have so much in common.
“With us being committed to Georgia and him thinking about Clemson, I told him that if he felt that was where he needed to be, that I was behind him 100 percent,” Wiggins said. “I said, ‘I am not going to turn my back on you if you go to Clemson.’ We had a long talk. But yesterday he called me and said, ‘Man, I feel free. I am about to call Clemson and cut them off. My heart is with Georgia.’ ”
Terry’s news was welcomed in Athens as the idea of losing their top two recruits had tight ends coach John Lilly visiting Terry as well before the SEC championship game. That visit paid off.
“I told Tramel to go with his heart because it is so easy to get sidetracked with all these coaches,” Wiggins said. “They tell you all this good stuff. You can probably ask any recruit and we would say we would play for every college if we could.”
Wiggins recently said that he would be attending the same school that former teammate Ja’Quay Williams (Tyrone, Ga./Fork Union) decided to choose. He mentioned it again Friday in the above video. On Sunday night, Williams, a former Auburn commitment heavily recruited by Georgia, announced that he would be enrolling at Texas A&M in January. For his part Wiggins has not backed off of the package deal talk, but after meeting with the Georgia coaches, the cornerback seemed much less inclined to follow Williams.
“I thought he was going to pick South Carolina,” Wiggins said.