Clemson cornerback Nate Wiggins leaving early for NFL draft

Nate Wiggins takes INT 98 yards to the house for Clemson (0:50)

Clemson's Nate Wiggins intercepts Drake Maye's pass for a 98-yard pick-six. (0:50)

Clemson cornerback Nate Wiggins will leave school early and declare for the 2024 NFL draft, he told ESPN in a phone interview Wednesday.

Wiggins projects as one of the draft's top cornerbacks, as ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. has him in the top 25 of his latest Big Board rankings. Wiggins will have a chance to earn the top cornerback spot in the pre-draft process after a strong close to his junior season.

He told ESPN that he is not planning to play in Clemson's bowl game.

"I just feel like it was that time," Wiggins said. "All the hard work I've put in, I feel like it was time for me to declare."

Also on Thursday, Clemson wide receiver Beaux Collins told ESPN that he is entering the transfer portal. Collins, who has 38 receptions for 510 yards and three touchdowns this season, would be immediately eligible to play in 2024.

Wiggins is a 6-foot-2, 185-pound junior from Atlanta. He emerged as one of the county's best cornerbacks this season and will compete for the top corner draft spot with players such as Iowa's Cooper DeJean, Alabama's Kool-Aid McKinstry and Georgia's Kamari Lassiter.

Wiggins' strengths will be speed and length, as he projects to be a prolific tester at the upcoming NFL combine. He finished the season as well as any cornerback in the country, including a forced fumble, interception, deflected pass and seven tackles against North Carolina on Nov. 18.

He is considered the fastest player on Clemson's team and earned first-team All-ACC honors for his 2023 performance.

"I feel like I'm the fastest, and I feel like I'm the most complete corner in the draft," Wiggins said.

Wiggins has been a productive player his entire career at Clemson, as he registered 14 pass deflections in 2022 and had eight breakups with two interceptions in 2023. Scouts have noticed his instincts and ability to get his hands on passes.

He returned an interception for a touchdown in each of the past two years, including intercepting Drake Maye in the ACC championship game in 2022 for a title-game-record 98-yard touchdown return. (Wiggins has two of Maye's 16 career interceptions.)

"I'm a cornerback who is going to lock down the best receiver and bring ball skills," he said. "They're going to get a hard worker, someone they can depend on and someone who can get the job done and love their teammates."

Wiggins said he appreciated his time at Clemson and credited all the staff, including coach Dabo Swinney, chief of football administration Woody McCorvey and cornerbacks coach Mike Reed, for the help in his development.

"I'm thankful for Clemson," Wiggins said. "They developed me into a wonderful man. Dabo and the whole coaching staff are so loving and pour out energy every day. They love everyone who goes through Clemson. They played a big part in my development."

Wiggins also thanked his mother, Tamika Lucas Baker, for her guidance to get him to this moment.

"This was a dream that I always wanted and it came fast," he said. "My mom has had a huge impact on me. She pushed me through the hard times. She always stayed on my side and believed in me."