JaQuari Wiggles had visited Tennessee’s campus multiple times in his high school career, but he still didn’t have an offer from the Vols. That changed recently, however, and Wiggles was taken aback when he did get the offer.
The 6-foot-3, 245-pound athlete from Atlanta, Georgia plays for Mays High School and is a two-way player. The three-star prospect plays both defensive line and tight end for Mays, and that versatility — along with his physical style of play — is what made him stand out to Tennessee.
And it’s why they ultimately decided to offer him.
“I was surprised,” Wiggles told me in a recent interview about his offer from the Vols. “I had been to Tennessee numerous times my sophomore season, but I had never actually gotten an offer. So when Coach (Tracy) Rocker came to school and gave me the offer, I was surprised.
“He said I was a two-way difference-maker. On the offensive side, it transforms to what I do on the defensive side, and I’m a great athlete that would be a great fit for Tennessee.”
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Wiggles, who’s rated as the No. 599 overall player in the 2020 class by the 247Sports Composite rankings, plays primarily as a defensive end for Mays, but he told me he’s played on offense his whole high school career, too. And it’s easy to see why when you watch his highlight film. He plays with tenacity and physicality on both sides of the ball, and his 6-foot-3, 245-pound body isn’t easy to bring down for most high school athletes.
Despite his success on offense, Wiggles still sees himself as a defensive player.
“I told (Rocker) I’m a defensive end type of guy,” Wiggles explained. “Once I said that, he looked me and said, ‘Well since you said that…’ and that’s when he offered.”
Wiggles has already been to UT several times throughout his recruitment, and he loves what he’s seen so far. He says that right now he’s really only talked to Tennessee defensive line coach Tracy Rocker on the coaching staff, but he looks forward to getting to know the other coaches on staff.
“Tennessee is a great school. It has great facilities,” Wiggles said. “That’s one thing that most stood out to me was the facilities and how beautiful it was just on campus. It’s just the area, being in Knoxville, it was one of the greatest moments I’ve had in my entire life.”
The versatile Georgia athlete will be back in Knoxville soon, too. He plans on visiting Tennessee during UT’s big Junior Day event on March 2nd, and he’ll be coming with his teammate, Durante Jones. Jones, a three-star cornerback who measures in at 6-foot-2, 170 pounds, doesn’t hold an offer from the Vols yet, but maybe that will change when he visits with his teammate.
As for Wiggles, his recruitment is just starting to heat up.
The offer from Tennessee was the latest of many that he’s picked up since his junior year ended. Including the offer from the Vols, Wiggles has picked up 11 FBS offers since the end of his junior season. Tennessee is the most prestigious of the offers, but it’s clear that coaches are starting to take notice, and it’s why Hugh Freeze at Liberty gave Wiggles an offer, as have coaches at Wake Forest, Tulane, Appalachian State, and Colorado State among the others who have offered him.
Why all the sudden interest? Because as Wiggles puts it, he had a “monster” junior season for Mays.
“I had a monster junior year,” Wiggles stated. “I scored about six touchdowns on offense, and I racked up about 12 sacks on defense. So I would say I had a great enough year for college coaches to decide they want to offer me.”
North Carolina was one of the first schools to offer Wiggles, and that came over the summer of 2018 before his junior season. Now that he’s heading into his senior year, Wiggles’ recruitment could be about to hit another level.
One thing is for certain, though: Tennessee likes what they see from Wiggles, and he’s certainly been happy with what he’s seen from the Vols so far.