During a visit to the Colorado campus in late November, cornerback Dante Wigley wore a No. 4 CU jersey.
That may not have been a coincidence.
On Wednesday, Wigley signed a letter of intent to play football for the Buffaloes, and he hopes to fill the shoes of a departing senior who currently wears No. 4, Chidobe Awuzie.
“(CU coaches) said they see me being basically him, trying to replace him with me,” Wigley said. “I definitely know I can do that, for sure.”
CU signed two junior college mid-year transfers on Wednesday – defensive tackle Javier Edwards and Wigley – that they hope can make an impact right away.
Wigley is a 6-foot-1, 190-pound cornerback from Holmes Community College in Mississippi. Edwards is a 6-foot-3, 330-pound nose tackle from Blinn College in Texas.
Both players could become very important for the Buffs, who lose all three starting defensive linemen – Jordan Carrell, Samson Kafovalu and Josh Tupou – and both starting cornerbacks – Awuzie and Ahkello Witherspoon – to graduation.
“Whenever you’re losing a lot of seniors on defense, you have to look to try to improve that as quickly as you can,” said CU co-offensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator Darrin Chiaverini. “A lot of times that’s in the junior college ranks. I coached junior college football for seven years and I know how good that talent level is, and our coaches do as well. It’s very important.”
Wigley was rated one of the top JUCO cornerbacks in the country. He redshirted at Georgia Tech in 2015 before playing one year at Holmes and he will have three years of eligibility remaining at CU.
“(Georgia Tech) just wasn’t a good fit for me, so I just decided to take the JUCO route to re-up my recruiting,” he said. “It worked out well for me.”
Wigley made his first and so far only visit to Colorado after Thanksgiving and was on hand for the regular season finale against Utah on Nov. 26. Having also visited Cincinnati, Mississippi State and Western Kentucky, he was instantly drawn to CU.
“Me and my mom went up there and it was a great experience,” he said. “I had never been to Colorado. When I got there, it just felt great. I’ve never seen such a beautiful place before.
“It’s my last chance, so I have to pick the right school. I know for a fact I picked the right school. It’s a great fit for me and everything I wanted in a school.”
Wigley seems to fit what the Buffs want, as well. While the Buffs do return some talented young corners, current sophomore Isaiah Oliver – who plays a lot when the Buffs are in a nickel defense – is the only returnee with much experience.
Wigley now gives the Buffs a second veteran corner with college experience, and Chiaverini actually compared Wigley to Oliver, in that both are long and athletic corners.
“It’s hard to find guys that are long and athletic like he is,” Chiaverini said. “We were intrigued with him on film and thought he did some really good things in run support, getting off blocks and making tackles in space. I think he fits what we do defensively really, really well.”
Wigley is confident he can make an immediate impact.
“I’m a versatile, very physical corner,” he said. “I like to get my hands on you, get in your face, I love to tackle.
“I’m very excited. I ready to get there and get to work and get everything started.”
Edwards, meanwhile, fills a significant need up front for the Buffs. Current reserves Leo Jackson III, Timothy Coleman and Jase Franke are all slated to return to the defensive line, none of them has the size to replace the 6-3, 325-pound Tupou, who has been a rock in the middle of the defensive line this season.
Edwards gives CU a run-stuffing nose tackle in the Tupou mold.
“Javier is an athletic, big nose tackle that will work perfect in our 3-4 defense,” head coach Mike MacIntyre said in a CU press release. “We are excited about having him here at the University of Colorado.”
One of the top JUCO defensive line prospects, Edwards was originally committed to Florida and was also strongly considering Arkansas.
Edwards played two seasons at Blinn, earning second-team All-Southwest Junior College Football Conference honors this season. He had 24 tackles, two sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss in eight games this season.
Edwards can play two seasons for the Buffs, but also had a redshirt season available.
More honors for MacIntyre
On Wednesday, MacIntyre was named a finalist for two more national coach of the year awards.
MacIntyre was named one of five finalists for the Dodd Trophy, and one of nine finalists for the Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year award.
Contact staff writer Brian Howell at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/BrianHowell33.