Scotland High School senior cornerback Malik Diggs had never played the sport of football before moving to Scotland County his ninth-grade year.
But fortunately for the Fighting Scots, fate would eventually intervene.
After a senior season that saw Diggs earn All-Conference and All-Region honors as well as a trip to the Shrine Bowl, colleges inevitably took notice of the 6’1” multi-talented student athlete.
And after a recent visit to the Citadel Military College of South Carolina in Charleston, Diggs made his intentions known. In the fall of this year, Diggs will become a member of the Bulldogs on a full scholarship to continue his already-stellar student athlete career.
“I really liked the environment there when I visited,” Diggs said. “But more importantly, the Citadel has a reputation for seeing their graduates become successful after college, and that’s what really helped me make my decision.”
A native of Southern Pines, Diggs enrolled at SHS his freshman year and got his start as a safety for the ninth-grade football squad. From there, he moved up to junior varsity in 10th-grade and saw his workload increase under former JV coach David Hunt.
But as was the case for many members of the 2012 varsity Fighting Scots, who went 12-2 and came within a game of a second consecutive 4-A state championship appearance, Diggs was forced to watch the 2011 season from the sidelines as a backup defensive back.
Players such as Diggs only received playing time during the waning minutes of a Scotland blowout, of which there were many during the Scots’ undefeated 2011 season. Rather than let the lack of playing time discourage him, Diggs instead made a promise to both himself and his departing teammates at the end of that season.
“We promised the team that we would make Scotland County proud when it was our turn to shine,” Diggs said. “I had to remain patient my junior year, but when it came time for me to start, I saw it as my way of paying the community back for all of their support.”
In his first and only year as a starter for the Scots, Diggs made the absolute most of his window of opportunity. Throughout the course of 14 games, Diggs established himself as one of the top defensive backs in North Carolina, compiling more than 100 tackles, 10 passes defensed and two forced fumbles.
Diggs will now look to bring his athleticism to a Citadel squad that finished 7-4 last season which included wins over Appalachian State, Furman and Western Carolina Universities. The team will also be returning several starters.
“Earning this opportunity shows that anybody can do it,” Diggs said. “I went from someone who barely played my junior year to getting a full ride to play college football, all because of hard work.”
And while his decision to attend the Citadel was a milestone moment in his life, Diggs has allowed himself little time to enjoy it.
Diggs is currently conditioning to take park in SHS track and field this year, another sport that he has excelled at during his Scots’ career. in 2012, Diggs finished sixth in the state in the 55-meter hurdles, eighth in the 110-meter hurdles and was a state finalist in the 300-meter hurdles. He is currently planning on competing in the same hurdle events this season as well as the 4x4 and 4x1 relays.
Diggs has undoubtedly blazed an enduring legacy during his four-year athletic career as a member of the Fighting Scots. But the moniker of ‘student athlete’ is what he takes the most pride in upholding, and Diggs looks to continue maintaining that balance at the next stage of his academic life.
“Sports is an outlet that education gives you the chance to do,” Diggs said. “For me to earn an opportunity to further my education because of sports makes it even better.”