Football

Clemson’s Wiggins relied on teammates, faith during ACL recovery

Clemson’s Korrin Wiggins is battling for playing time this fall after missing all of last season with a torn ACL.
Clemson’s Korrin Wiggins is battling for playing time this fall after missing all of last season with a torn ACL. gmelendez@thestate.com

It’s been a year since Clemson safety/linebacker Korrin Wiggins tore his ACL while preparing for the 2015 season, and while there were certainly difficult times during his rehab process, the only noticeable difference for Wiggins now as opposed to before the injury is the knee brace he wears for precautionary measures.

“August 12th is the day I tore my ACL… The 28th is the day I had my surgery,” Wiggins recalled after Wednesday’s practice. “About six months into it I got back to feeling very confident. I’m big on my faith and trust in the lord so I just went with it.”

Trust in his knee was something that took time, and in addition to relying on his faith, Wiggins also relied on his teammates.

Listening to his body was also vital to making a full recovery.

“Some days your knee might swell. You want to ice it more. You can’t do as much with your range of motion when it swells,” Wiggins said. “Some days it hurts more than another day. Those days when it hurts a little more you want to do a little less.”

It took almost six months for Wiggins to feel 100 percent. Then he had to overcome another hurdle -- the toughest one.

“Mentally, just knowing that you’re healed,” Wiggins said. “That you can be back to where you were or better than where you were.”

On the days when his knee was swollen or when he was doubting how much he could trust his knee, Wiggins leaned on Deshaun Watson, Charone Peake and Travis Blanks, teammates who had gone through the same worries and doubts.

“All of those guys put their arms around me and told me everything was going to be all right,” he said.

When Clemson cornerback Adrian Baker tore his ACL this spring, it was Wiggins’s turn to lend a helping hand.

“I was there for that encouragement. I told him, ‘Look at me. A lot of us have been through it. It’s not the end of the world,’” Wiggins said. “I’ve been telling him the type of things I feel.”

Even though Wiggins feels 100 percent, he still has work to do to earn significant playing time this fall.

He made six starts from the nickel position in 2014, recording 40 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and two interceptions.

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said he needs to see more from Wiggins before penciling him in as a starter.

“He’s still got some rust he’s got to knock off,” Swinney said. “He does a nice job in the box. He’s always been natural and instinctive the closer to the ball that he is. He’s a good tackler, but he’s still got a lot of work to do to get to where he needs to be.”

Wiggins is unsure of where he is on the depth chart and said he doesn’t believe defensive coordinator Brent Venables has set one yet.

“Coach V tells me, ‘Hey, go in there,’ on certain downs and packages and stuff,” Wiggins said.

When it does come time for a depth chart, he is hopeful his ability to play safety or linebacker will benefit him.

“My versatility, I feel, is a bonus for the team,” Wiggins said. “I take great pride in that.”

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