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How fast is Clemson's Nate Wiggins? Is he the fastest man in college football?

November 25, 2023

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When Clemson cornerback Nate Wiggins tracked down North Carolina running back Omarion Hampton a week ago, he reached a maximum speed of 22.6 mph, according to Reel Analytics.

The play unfolded with Hampton's 64-yard sprint towards the end zone, initially called a touchdown but after further review, called a fumble forced by Wiggins near the 1-yard-line. Consequently, the fumble resulted in a touchback, granting possession to the Tigers and thwarting the potential touchdown and 14-0 UNC lead. 

The junior and 2024 NFL prospect displayed great speed and hustle on the play and later eliminated any chances of a Tarheel's comeback by intercepting quarterback Drake Maye, a top 5 NFL Draft prospect, with 2:37 left in the game. 

On Monday, the media was interested in teammates' reactions to Wiggins' heroics and unmasking the answer to one question, 'Is Wiggins the fastest player on the team?'

Quarterback Cade Klubnik: "I think so."

Center Will Putnam, who also said his only chance of beating Wiggins in a race over 40 yards was to be placed at the 20: "He's the fastest in my mind."

Safety Khalil Barnes: "If I had to put any money down, I would bet on him. We haven't had an official race but I think everybody knows -- Nate's the fastest guy on the team."

Back in 2021 during fall camp, former Tigers' running back Lyn-J Dixon said he thought Wiggins was the fastest on the team. And when asked to explain why, he replied with a wry smile, "I just seen him run. He's floating."

Wiggins may be the fastest Clemson Tiger but is he the fastest man in college football? 

Reel Analytics tracks the maximum speed of players weekly and for week 12, Wiggins' time was second only to Texas receiver Xavier Worthy, who reached 22.7 mph on an 86-yard punt return touchdown that was nullified by a penalty flag.

Wiggins' game-changing jaunt also elevated him to a tie with UAB receiver Brandon Buckhaulter (Week 6) for the second-overall fastest time in college football. 

1) Xavier Worthy (6'1, 172), WR, Texas: 22.7

2) Brandon Buckhaulter (6'3, 205), WR, UAB: 22.6

2) Nate Wiggins (6'2, 185), CB, Clemson: 22.6

3) Kapena Gushiken (6'0, 180), DB, Washington State: 22.4

3) Jason Bean (6'3, 205), QB, Kansas: 22.4

4) Xavier Legette (6'3, 227), WR, South Carolina: 22.3

4) Troy Franklin (6'3, 187), WR, Oregon: 22.3

5) Marvin Harrison Jr. (6'4, 205), WR, Ohio State: 22.2 

5) Jaylen Wright (5'11, 210), RB, Tennessee: 22.2

6) Dylan Edwards (5'9, 170), RB, Colorado: 22.0

6) Trey Benson (6'1, 223), RB, Florida State: 22.0 

When No. 24 Clemson travels to Columbia to matchup with Palmetto State rival South Carolina on Saturday, Wiggins will face receiver Xavier Legette, who has the fourth-best time (22.3 - Week 4) in the country. 

Wiggins and Legette are high on Reel Analytics list of fleet players but neither has verified 40-yard dash or 100-meter sprint times, which are widely used to compare speed among football players. However, both will likely post 40 times at the NFL Draft Combine (February 26 – March 4, 2024).

By the only metric of speed that Wiggins has been measured, he is one of the fastest in college football. 

Here's a list of freshmen with impressive 100-meter prep times under 10.4 (wind-aided times included):

1) Rodrick Pleasant (5'9, 160), DB, Oregon: 10.09

2) Nyck Harbor (6'5, 241), WR, South Carolina: 10.20 

2) Eric Singleton Jr. (5'11, 173), WR, Georgia Tech: 10.20

3) Ethan Black (5'9, 165), WR, Penn State: 10.22 

4) Chris Johnson Jr. (6'0, 180), RB, Miami: 10.25

5) Jaquaize Pettaway (5'10, 187), WR, Oklahoma: 10.27

6) Marquis Johnson (5’11, 180), WR, Missouri: 10.29

7) Drayden Dickmann (5'11, 178), WR, Rice: 10.32 

8) Zachariah Branch (5'10, 175), WR, USC: 10.33

9) Jaxon Hammond (5’10, 160), DB, Army: 10.35

10) Tyler Hutcherson (5'9, 160), CB, Stephen F. Austin: 10.37 

10) Miles Thompson (5'11, 175), DB, Texas Tech: 10.37

Note: Dylan Edwards won the Under Armour All-American Game fastest man competition by defeating Nyck Harbor.

Here are the fastest upperclassmen in college football. The top three are also college track and field athletes (wind-aided times included):

1) Micah Williams (5’8, 195), WR, Oregon: 9.83

The track star joined the Ducks football team this spring. The junior last played football as a freshman on the Benson Tech High School (Portland, OR) JV team in 2016. Has nine sub-10 times in his collegiate career and was an alternate for the 4 ×100 team in the 2020 (2021) Olympics [Tokyo].

2) Arian Smith (6’0, 185), WR, Georgia: 10.10 

Posted the time in his second career college track meet on May 28, 2021.

3) Jordan Anthony (5’10, 155), WR, Texas A&M: 10.16

The sophomore spent his freshman year at Kentucky, where his time broke the school's freshman record.

4) Brenen Thompson (5'9, 160), WR, Oklahoma: 10.18

5) Tevin Williams III (6’0, 188), CB, Baylor: 10.20

6) Domani Jackson (6’1, 190), CB, USC: 10.25

7) Chandler "CJ" Smith (6’3, 190), WR, Georgia: 10.28

8) Tyler Owens (6’2, 210), DB, Texas Tech: 10.29 

9) Drew Donley (6’2, 190), WR, Texas State: 10.31

10) Jason Bean (6’3, 205), QB, Kansas: 10.36

10) Tyler Harrell (6’0, 200), WR, Miami: 10.36 

Notes: Notre Dame receiver Chris Tyree is a two-time winner of The Opening's Fastest Man Challenge. Colorado receiver Jimmy Horn Jr. was clocked at 4.38 in the 40-yard dash to tie Dylan Edwards as the fastest Buffalo. 

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How fast is Clemson's Nate Wiggins? Is he the fastest man in college football?

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