As the Ravens’ pick neared, general manager Eric DeCosta’s phone alerted him to an incoming message from Clemson coach Dabo Swinney.

“Dabo was texting us during the first round, ‘Please take this guy,” DeCosta said.

The Ravens certainly planned to take Swinney’s “guy,” Clemson cornerback Nate Wiggins, if he was still around at No. 30. But Wiggins didn’t know that.

Ranked the 24th-best player overall by Wide Left’s consensus big board, Wiggins wasn’t happy to be on the board at 30. He needed space, so he headed to the bathroom. Of course, that was when the phone rang.

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“I was mad. I’m not going to lie, I was mad,” Wiggins said at his introductory press conference Friday. “Then I saw my phone ring, and everything just went — it was crazy.”

Wiggins exited the bathroom with his head down, one hand holding the phone to his ear. His agent let his waiting loved ones know: “Baltimore. It’s Baltimore.” Wiggins was greeted by cheers, while Swinney, a good friend of Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, stood by looking pleased but not at all surprised.

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An emotional Wiggins promised DeCosta and coach John Harbaugh that they had gotten the best cornerback in the draft. His stats tell a tale of how he’ll fit the scheme, but how does he fit as a person?

Here are five things to know about Wiggins.

1. He wanted to be Cam Newton

It took a while for Wiggins to settle into the best position for him. He played multiple roles across different teams growing up. His favorite as a kid? Quarterback.

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It was the same position where another alum of Atlanta’s Westlake High School found success. Cam Newton, who played at Westlake, won a national championship with Auburn before embarking on an 11-year NFL career as a quarterback. Wiggins, who graduated from Westlake in 2020, didn’t just want to follow in his footsteps.

“I wanted to be Cam Newton,” Wiggins said at his introductory press conference Friday. “Turns out, I’m a cornerback.”

But Wiggins didn’t go right from quarterback to cornerback. In between, he had a period when he wanted to pursue a career as a wide receiver.

At the levels below college football, it’s common for players to have both an offensive and a defensive position. Wiggins was a wide receiver and a cornerback and wanted to focus on offense, but his parents pushed him to lean into his role as a defensive player.

”They were like, ‘There’s a lot of receivers that are fast. There are not that many cornerbacks that tall that can do what I can do,’” Wiggins recalled.

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They were right.

2. His mom is the secret to his success

The day before the draft, Wiggins made a big purchase. It wasn’t a flashy ride or a house or any of the other purchases prospects sometimes make for themselves in anticipation of their future NFL paycheck.

Wiggins partnered with Zales to gift a pair of earrings to his mother.

“She was just always caring,” Wiggins said of his mother, Tamika, whom he called his biggest supporter. “She never let me down. She was always there. She was always on time. She pushed me to be the Nate I was always supposed to be.”

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Beyond pushing her son toward cornerback, Tamika had a huge impact on who Wiggins became as a player and a person.

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“On the field, she be an inspiration because she be at every game,” Wiggins said. “She never miss a game. Off the field, she going to be there. She’s going to make sure I’m on time, I’m accountable, I’m a man of my word.”

As Wiggins prepares for this next step, his mom continues to do that.

“I challenge you to become the best cornerback to ever play this game,” Tamika said in a video posted by Clemson football’s X account. “I challenge you to fight through adversity and never give up.”

As the Ravens’ pick was called out, Tamika was the first person Wiggins turned to hug.

3. He’s got growing to do

When Wiggins stepped on the scale at the NFL combine, he weighed 173 pounds. For someone who’s 6 feet 1 and looking to compete against NFL players, that’s light. Very light.

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But Wiggins is not 173 pounds naturally. That’s about what he weighed when he was in high school. In his final season of college football, Clemson listed him at 185 pounds.

At the combine, Wiggins’ biggest asset was his speed. He prepared by doing lots of work to prep for the 40-yard dash. That, combined with nerves, melted weight off his frame.

“I just didn’t eat at the combine,” Wiggins said. “I just lost weight, and I just had to gain my weight back and eat right.”

Already, Wiggins is back up to 182 pounds. DeCosta seemed confident the Ravens’ strength and conditioning plan, combined with their nutrition plan, will get him where he needs to be.

Wiggins has another thing on his side: time.

One of the youngest players in the draft, Wiggins won’t turn 21 until Aug. 28. That’s young for any draft, but especially for one where there are college players who used COVID years to extend their careers or remained in school to earn name, image and likeness money.

He’s got to grow in more ways than weight. Wiggins is only two seasons removed from what he and Swinney referred to as an “immature year,” according to the Greenville News. He said he was immature when it came to class, to practice, to tutoring, to weightlifting. On top of that, he still has things to learn on the field that two years of starts at the college level couldn’t teach him.

Wiggins has matured, but there’s still a lot for him to learn as he goes through his first NFL camp. After all, he’s still only 20. What were you doing at 20?

4. He has a bigger purpose

Wiggins has a foundation to help him lift up those from where he grew up. Launched in 2023, the Wiggs World Wide Foundation works to “provide resources and access to education to underfunded communities” in Atlanta, according to the organization’s website. None of its volunteers takes a salary.

In just one year, the foundation has hosted events including charity runs, benefit concerts, art auctions and galas. Wiggins’ major, sociology, and his minor in business also support what he’s trying to do with the foundation.

Wiggins has volunteered through Clemson, with a particular interest in food drives and girls flag football. The latter fits with one of the Ravens’ recent focuses. They started a high school varsity girls flag football program in Frederick County last year and announced this year that they’re expanding to 51 teams in Maryland.

5. He’ll be right at home

Swinney isn’t the only one with friends in Baltimore. Former Clemson linebacker Trenton Simpson was waiting at the Ravens facility to welcome Wiggins to the Flock. He told Wiggins Baltimore has a similar vibe to Clemson and that he’d be at home here.

Simpson, the Ravens’ third-round selection in last year’s draft, played in front of Wiggins on the Tigers defense for two years. He is familiar with Wiggins’ family, too, greeting everyone with a hug and a “glad to see you again.”

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With the departure of starting linebacker Patrick Queen in free agency, Simpson is expected to step into a starting role. Pass game coordinator Chris Hewitt said Friday that they’re going to try to get Wiggins onto the field this season, which means he and Simpson have the chance to play together for the first time since the 2022 season.

“Glad to have you again,” Simpson told Wiggins as he stepped out of a van Friday.

The Ravens and Wiggins got to know each other through the draft process, and Baltimore stood out from other organizations.

“It was really just different,” Wiggins said. “They let me be myself; they didn’t have any critiques about it, so I just like to be myself. I don’t really like ... I feel like I fit perfect here. I feel like God had a plan.”

The feeling was mutual.

After Wiggins visited the Ravens facility, defensive coordinator Zach Orr remembered thinking the cornerback might not be available for the Ravens’ first-round pick, “but if you are, I’m going to make sure that I fight on the table for you.”

As the draft went on, Orr realized he might get the chance to fight.

“I was like ‘Man, I hope no one else picks him before it gets to us,’” Orr said. “But it was great. Just started getting excited because we knew he was our guy.”

In fact, Orr said, that’s how the Ravens referred to him all night, as “our guy,” well before Baltimore was on the clock.

“[DeCosta] knew that, if Nate was there, that was the guy that he was going to take,” Orr said. “I think he talked about it last night. It was a lot of phone calls, a lot of stuff going on, and he was saying, ‘If our guy is there, we’re taking him.’ And Nate was our guy. [As] soon as it was our time to go up and Nate was still on that board, it was time to make that phone call, and there was no hesitation. So that’s how bad we wanted him.”

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