BOULDER – When Trey Udoffia went down with an ankle injury at UCLA, there was a collective apprehensive gasp that rippled through the sea of Colorado Buffaloes fans. The secondary that was already trying to fill the void of losing Chidobe Awuzie, Tedric Thompson and Ahkello Witherspoon had just lost an important starter.
Enter Dante Wigley, the junior college transfer whose name has been whispered all offseason as a potential contributor to the vaunted CU ‘Moneygang.’ Wigley stepped onto the field and within a few snaps, it became clear that the Buffs defensive backs would not miss a beat with their backup in.
“I was preparing myself all [last]week,” Wigley said. “Me and Trey [Udoffia] have been rotating, so I was just ready to get my time. When my number was called, I was ready to go out there. It was a lot of fun, playing against UCLA in the Rose Bowl, it was a great experience. I feel like I grew up a lot in that game.”
Wigley saw two of his teammates in the secondary exit the game with injuries, including safety Afolabi Laguda who took a big, illegal hit in the second half. But Wigley says that won’t scare him from playing tough, and injuries are just a part of the game.
“You just have to be on the lookout,” Wigley said. “With football, any play could be your last play, you could get hurt at any time so you just have to give it all you got on every play and just hope for the best.”
The status of fellow cornerback Udoffia’s injury remains unclear as the Buffs approach their Saturday bout with Arizona, so Wigley is getting ready to step on the field as a starter.
“I’m taking all the reps with the ones [this week],” Wigley said. “I’ll be prepared if Trey is out there or I’m out tvhere.”
In one year of junior college, Wigley racked up 30 total tackles and six pass breakups, and scored a touchdown after stripping the ball from the hands of a wide receiver. He is an illustration of the talent and depth the Buffs boast in their secondary, and he’s ready to prove what he is capable of.
“We’re all competitors,” Wigley said of the secondary. “I’m going to give it everything I got on every play once I’m on that field. I’m going to give 110% – you’ll see relentless effort from me.”
Wigley has been taking cues from veteran cornerback and future NFL draft pick Isaiah Oliver, which probably accounts for some of his ability to step in and uphold the Buffs dominant defensive play.
“[Oliver’s] helped me a lot since I got here with the play calls, with my technique,” Wigley said. “We’ve been working together since day one.”
As for this weekend’s Pac-12 tilt, Wigley believes that no matter which cornerbacks take the field, the Buffs will be able to shut down Arizona’s offense.
“They got a good quarterback who likes to run and they’ve got some decent receivers,” Wigley said. “We’re gonna compete and give it all we got and I believe we’ll do really well.”
If Wigley can step in for Udoffia and shore up the secondary for CU on Saturday, it will be a testament to how deep their talent runs at defensive back. In a must-win game for a Buffs team that wants to make another championship push in the Pac, CU will need to lean on their defense more than ever.