Qan'tez Stiggers
Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Many of the top cornerback prospects in the 2024 NFL Draft taking a conventional path to the National Football League, entering college football as highly-touted recruits and then developing into some of the best players in the nation. Qwan’tez Stiggers has taken a much more unconventional path after life changed his family forever.

As detailed by Nick Baumgardner of The Athletic, Stiggers didn’t look like a future football star even early in high school. He was only 5-foot-5 as a sophomore in high school, but a growth spurt made him 6 feet by his senior year. However, he played at a small school in Atlanta. One of 13 children, Stiggers was set to play football at Division II Lane College for the 2020 season until his family’s life changed forever.

Related: Super Bowl contender interested in drafting Qwan’tez Stiggers

Stiggers’ father, Rayves Harrison, was involved in a one-car accident that left him in a coma on Valentine’s Day 2020. The freshman went home to be with his family as often as he could with his father’s prognosis worsening. In September, Harrison passed away.

  • Qwan’tez Stiggers CFL stats: 5 interceptions in 16 games

The love for football he had was gone and his only desire was to return home to support his family. He did whatever he could to provide financial support, making deliveries for Doorash and InstaCart during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, through it all, focusing on anything in the wake of his father’s death left him in a deep depression.

“I couldn’t focus. It was like a period of time where I’d try to do something — anything — and then a picture of my dad would just pop up in my head. Didn’t matter what it was. And it would just shut me right down.”

Qwan’tez Stiggers on life after his father’s death in September 2020

Qwan’tez Stiggers return to football and road to the 2024 NFL Draft

Those closest to him realized he wasn’t the same. Stiggers’ smile, energy and passion for life were gone. Thankfully, a support system led by his fiance and his mom encouraged him to return to the thing he fell in love with as a child and they knew could bring him joy again. Football.

“Why play football if your biggest fan couldn’t be there?”

Qwan’tez Stiggers on why he stepepd away from football (via

Stiggers still faced an uphill climb to make his return to football. Years removed from his last competitive snaps in high school, he began training and those steps towards a return to the game helped inspire him at each step of the way. However, even after getting into football shape, he needed to find a place to play and there didn’t seem to be options.

That’s when his mom found an opportunity close to home. Fan Controlled Football (FCF) was heading into its second season and that gave Stiggers a chance to get his foot in the door. He spent the 2022 season in the FCF, shaking off the rust after years away from the game and proving his talent and athleticism belonged at a higher level.

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Fortunately for Stiggers, an FCF coach (John Jenkins) had ties to the Canadian Football League and he sent film and a strong recommendation to his friends in the CFL. The Toronto Argonauts called, offering Stiggers a chance to earn a spot on the roster.

Just making the Argonauts’ roster could’ve been considered an accomplishment considering what Stiggers went through and how long he was away from football. He did a lot more than that. Stiggers was one of the best defensive players in the CFL, making the East All-Star team this past season and he was named the Most Outstanding Rookie.

Stiggers has drawn interest from multiple NFL teams, including top-30 visits to meet with coaches at team facilities across the country. He is widely expected to be taken within the first six rounds of the 2024 NFL Draft. If that happens, per ESPN Stats and Info, Stiggers will become just the third player since 1967 to be picked in the NFL Draft despite having never played a single snap of college football.