Big Dreams, Big Plans
Nov. 15, 2013
By Tyler Wallace,
Senior outside receiver Reese Wiggins labels his career at East Carolina with one word: Exciting. However, he isn't ready to hang up his cleats just yet.
"Every day holds something different," Wiggins said. "I have had some ups and had some downs but I keep on pushing, praying and believing in my abilities and my teammates."
A native of Durham, Wiggins has seen his fair share of excitement as a Pirate, but it all started where most players find their careers start, as a young kid.
In the eighth grade, Wiggins' athletic ability caught the eye of a friend who played football. His friend invited him to play and the rest is history.
When it came time for Wiggins to make the transition from middle school to Southern Durham High School, his athletic ability helped find a place on the field. It also helped him move from quarterback to wide receiver as a sophomore.
"I went to high school my ninth grade year as a quarterback and got moved up to the varsity, then I decided I wanted to be a receiver because I knew you had to be kind of tall to be a quarterback." Wiggins said.
The switch ultimately paid off and he made an immediate impact on the Spartan squad that won three consecutive conference titles with Wiggins catching passes.
As a sophomore, Wiggins opened his prep career with 214 receiving yards along with three touchdowns. He continued to drastically improve each year. His junior campaign included 212 return yards and over 491 receiving yards with five touchdowns to propel the Spartans to a 10-5 record and a Piedmont Athletic Conference (PAC-6) championship.
His senior year proved to be the most productive and important season for the young wide out.
He tallied 1,174 all-purpose yards with eight scores as a team captain. He also registered 659 receiving yards with four touchdowns on 44 receptions along with 515 kick return yards and four special team touchdowns to earn all-conference, all-area and all-state honors.
His spectacular senior season performance helped guide the Spartans to another conference championship, and earned him an invitation to play in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolina's All-Star game.
Wiggins began a new chapter in his life after he signed a letter of intent to attend and play football at East Carolina University in February 2009.
"It was an exciting time," said Wiggins. "My whole family was all so happy for me. A lot of schools thought I couldn't play at the Division I level so it was kind of a big deal for me. I believed in my abilities, I trusted God, my family stayed behind me and I took it from there."
Wiggins redshirted his initial season on campus and proved to be an important member of the scout team, but the knowledge he gained from a conference championship team provided a launching point that propelled him into a major offensive weapon as he entered his sophomore campaign.
"The first conference championship we won that I was a part of was an exciting moment," Wiggins said. "It was pretty exciting to see how everyone worked and handled their business and came out and just played hard and believed in each other."
Wiggins made his first of 10 appearances as sophomore UAB. He hauled in 29 passes with 432 yards with three touchdowns and led the team with an average of 14.9 yards per catch in 2011.
The sophomore launched himself into the starting lineup late in the 2011 season at the outside receiver spot following an injury to Lance Lewis.
His first start came against Conference USA rival Southern Miss and he made an immediate impact. On the second play of the game, Wiggins caught the first touchdown pass of his career - a 77-yard strike from quarterback Dominique Davis.
"That was pretty big," Wiggins said. "It was a defining moment for me after all the hard work, preparation, meetings, and practices. It was very exciting."
Wiggins came into his own late in the season against UCF, scoring two touchdowns and grabbing six passes for 123 yards all of which came after halftime. He was recognized as a College Football Performance Awards Honorable Mention wide receiver for Week 12 following the UCF game. Among his catches in the game was an 84-yard touchdown reception, which was the fourth longest reception in school history.
His junior year was not as productive as the previous, but he still started 10 games at the outside receiver slot, tied for fifth in receptions (25) and notched 208 yards with one touchdown on a Pirate squad that went 8-5.
As a senior, Wiggins has proven to be a weapon for the Pirates' top-20 ranked pass offense, but he knows that his playing days at East Carolina are dwindling.
"It always creeps in your mind that that your playing career is coming to an end," said Wiggins. "I am just trying to finish strong and make the best of it."
Wiggins gives credit to his family for supporting him through his career and his faith for continuing to push him. He earned his bachelor's degree earlier this spring and has hope of playing professional football, but has a plan following the conclusion of his playing days.
"I have dreams and aspirations of running a recreation center," he explained. "I like to help and work with kids. I know a lot of things that the younger guys go through so I just want to be a positive influence on somebody."