McKinley’s Nicholas Wiggins brought his mother along for an unofficial visit to Louisiana-Lafayette early last week with the intention of getting a closer look at the campus and athletic facilities.
“I was just going to hang out with the coaches and tour everything,” Wiggins said.
What transpired, though, was more than Wiggins expected when he returned to the school’s athletic department and found the majority of the staff waiting.
Among the myriad reasons UL-Lafayette jumped on Wiggins’ radar early in the recruiting process was the warmth the versatile senior said he felt throughout coach Mark Hudspeth’s staff.
After his latest visit, Wiggins said he felt compelled to commit to the Ragin’ Cajuns because of a sense of comfort with the staff, including lead recruiters Levorn Harbin and Charlie Harbison, being among his central reasons.
“I was always close with the coaches and stayed in touch with them,” Wiggins said. “They pretty much feel like family. They’re open and caring, and I feel comfortable around them. It kind of felt like home, and that did it for me.”
Wiggins, who has started on both sides of the ball at McKinley, is projected to play outside linebacker/strong safety for UL-Lafayette, which now has 16 commitments in its current recruiting class.
Wiggins, a 6-foot-3, 220-pounder, is the third local-area player to select the Cajuns, joining offensive lineman Akkai Ward of Brusly and Tra’Vontae Booker of East Feliciana.
“It’s close to home and then on top of that I’ll have the chance to compete early,” Wiggins said. “I wanted to get it out of the way and be able to go into the season without any worries. I can just go in with a winning-season attitude. I think it’s the best move for me.”
Wiggins has started the past two seasons at McKinley at tight end and defensive end. He made second team All-District 5-5A last season at defensive end.
He’s also a three-year letter winner for McKinley’s basketball program, helping the Panthers to the Class 5A state playoffs last season.
“His motor is always working on the field,” McKinley coach Robert Signater said. “He’s a physical football player and a natural athlete. You don’t have to tell him much because he understands the game.”
Wiggins said he faced a difficult decision, selecting UL-Lafayette from nine schools that extended offers including Arkansas State, Colorado State, Kansas State, Louisiana Tech, Louisiana-Monroe, Southern Mississippi and Tulane, while receiving interest from Minnesota.
“It was a tough decision,” he said. “I liked all of them. I’m still going to take visits with my mother, but it would take a lot to knock UL out of the top spot.”
Wiggins said UL-Lafayette’s coaches visualized his talents at the outside linebacker/strong safety position during his time at the school’s camp, where he displayed the ability to rush the passer and drop into coverage.
He’s expected to play that role at McKinley this season as well as wide receiver.
“I’m pretty comfortable at the position,” Wiggins said of the outside linebacker/strong safety spot. “I think they liked the things I was able to do, and they said that was my position. They loved me there.”