After the Elon University football team’s spring game ended, rising sophomore quarterback Connor Christiansen smiled a knowing smile when asked about rising sophomore defensive back Greg Liggs Jr.
“Greg Liggs has not made one play all spring until tonight,” Christiansen said through laughter.
Standing just five feet away, Liggs’ eyes lit up at Christiansen’s words, and asked, “Is that on the record?”
The laughter shared between these two after the exchange happened following Liggs’ phenomenal spring game, where he picked off rising sophomore quarterback Daniel Thompson three times.
And it comes at the end of an admittedly difficult spring for the Greensboro native and Southeast Guilford High School graduate.
“It’s been rough, that’s what we’re going to say. It’s been rough,” Liggs said.
Head coach Rich Skrosky agreed with the assessment, saying Liggs’ spring was “very up-and-down” and inconsistent.
“In scrimmage situations, he made some critical errors,” Skrosky said. “He had some practices where he walked off the practice field and said, ‘I don’t know if I’m where I want to be.’
“So it was good to see him come back, and that’s a good sign from a young guy, to not get down on himself. The lights are on, and he stepped up. That’s awesome.”
The first interception happened early, when Liggs caught the twice-deflected pass and ran it back 30 yards for the first touchdown of the spring game.
Liggs high-stepped for the last 20 yards, using former NFL star Deion Sanders’ signature celebration. He used Sanders’ nickname when discussing his celebratory strut into the end zone, and hinted at a potential number swap.
“A little something, a little ‘Prime Time,’” Liggs said. “I saw grass, and all I was thinking was ‘Prime Time.’ I’ve got my little bandana on, and y’all might see 21 coming soon.”
The second interception may have been the most impressive, as Liggs leaped high in the air to catch Thompson’s pass to rising sophomore wide receiver Tereak McCray. While the long bomb was intercepted, Skrosky thought the play was an example of the defender making a play, and not a poor throw.
“I think on a couple of them, honestly, I think he gave the receiver a good shot,” Skrosky said. “Those are 50-50 balls. When it’s one-on-one, and it’s truly a 50-50 ball, somebody’s going to make the play.”
Liggs made the play at the Maroon 21-yard line, stayed in bounds and started to return it up the far sideline. He ran straight ahead for 50 yards, then turned in toward the middle of the field.
With offensive players from White surrounding him, Liggs used a vicious spin move to escape the grasp of rising sophomore running back Copeland Spell around the White 25-yard line, and bolted to the end zone on the near sideline. Liggs says he’s been practicing the spin move since he was a kid.
“Little league, that’s all I used to do,” he said. “It’s a spin cycle.”
Liggs wasn’t able to finish the play off with his second pick-six, though, as McCray came all the way back down to field to force him out of bounds at the two-yard line. Liggs’ 77-yard return may end up coming back to haunt the defensive backs just because it wasn’t a 79-yard return for a touchdown.
“We might have to do a couple more sprints at practice,” he said. “I ran out of gas. Daniel was signaling me to stop, because he has a blue jersey on and I don’t think he wanted me to get any contact. I got caught on the two- or three-yard line. But it’s all good.”
Liggs made another interception in the second quarter and nearly had a fourth, but the ball went through his hands and into the arms of redshirt freshman wide receiver Josh Ramseur. But Ramseur may have been caught expecting Liggs to catch it, as he dropped it in the end zone.
“[It went] right through my hands,” Liggs said. “I was scared — I thought Josh might’ve still came down with the catch. But we pitched a little shutout, so that’s a good thing.”
The shutout left Liggs and everyone on the maroon team laughing, but it gives him a major positive to build on at the end of a rocky spring.
“It’s a good feeling,” Liggs said. “It hasn’t been the best spring. It gives me a little confidence to keep moving on. I think it’s a good thing to build on.”
And the highlight for Liggs won’t be any of the three interceptions or the touchdown. He said his personal highlight was the spin move on Spell.
“We had a little argument last scrimmage, because he bust loose a 50-yard run at the end of the scrimmage,” Liggs said. “And I told him, ‘If I had five more yards, he was getting caught.’ He said he was scoring anyway. So now we’re one and one.”
And Liggs promises that Spell will hear about the play for “a couple of weeks,” and that he’ll find the spin on video and post it to Vine.
“It might be coming tonight,” he said.