Cornerback Cedric Jiles could never stay healthy long enough to make a major impact at Mississippi State.
Wake Forest has just laid a bet that his luck will change.
The NCAA granted Jiles a sixth season of eligibility after the 2016 campaign, and he will use it playing for Wake Forest for the 2017 season as a graduate transfer. Jiles, who overcame a torn hamstring and a broken arm during his career with the Bulldogs, visited campus this weekend and committed on Monday to play for the Deacons.
“I did a lot of praying about it, and it was a really hard decision,” Jiles said by phone Monday afternoon. “Looking back on it now with this past visit and talking to Wake Forest over these past few months or so, I feel like it’s the best decision I could make.”
Jiles said he was impressed by the Wake Forest campus, and also favored the schedule established by head coach Dave Clawson of practicing in the early morning to leave the afternoons open for studies.
Jiles majored in human science at Mississippi State.
“(I liked) the staff, the environment, the academics,” Jiles said. “I like how I can get the football done early in the morning and have a lot of time to devote to academics in the afternoon.
“And it’s just a great university to be a part of. It’s kind of like a once-in-a-lifetime deal, so I feel I should definitely take it.”
Jiles played in 35 games at Mississippi State, where he made 71 tackles. He started 11 games, eight as a senior. He amassed 31 tackles in 2016 and returned an interception 74 yards for a touchdown in the Bulldogs’ victory over rival Ole Miss.
The Deacons wrapped up spring practice this month with several questions to be answered going into preseason camp in August. One of the most pressing was who would start at cornerback following the loss of Brad Watson to spent eligibility.
“We need a corner to step up,” Clawson said after the spring game on April 8. “We really do. That’s a position that if a freshman comes in ready to go, they can play. We need a complete corner that can cover and tackle and do everything we need our corners to do.”
Jiles will compete against Amari Henderson, Dionte Austin and Essang Bassey, as well as incoming freshmen Coby Davis of Upper Marlboro, Md., and Ja’Sir Taylor of Asbury Park, N.J.
Henderson started nine games in 2016 as a redshirt freshman, while Austin started two as a sophomore and Bassey started two as a freshman.
“It’s one of the top factors, I would say top three,” Jiles said. “You’re a football player at the end of the day and you want to go somewhere and play to get to the next level.
“When I saw they needed help I thought it was a great situation to step into.”
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