Mari Wingard is a defensive back and kick returner for the Georgia Southern Eagles football team. He previously played for the Elon Phoenix, where he appeared in 11 games and had 38 tackles, including half a tackle for loss, seven pass break-ups and two interceptions. He led the team in pass break-ups and tied for team honors in interceptions. He also returned 16 kicks for 418 yards, averaging 26.1 yards per return. Wingard had a season-best six tackles on two occasions, doing so at Appalachian State and at James Madison. He had an interception against William & Mary as well as in the win over No. 25 Rhode Island to close the year. He added a season-best three pass break-ups at Appalachian State, a week after recording two pass break-ups at Campbell. He entered the NCAA Transfer Portal in November and enrolled at Georgia Southern for the spring semester.
Early life and career
He was born on December 24 in Charlotte and has two siblings, Omari and Khidahry. His brother Omari ran track at Mars Hill University. He graduated from Elon with a degree in finance.
Wingard played high school football at Ardrey Kell High and was a two-time all-conference selection. He was named First-Team All-Mecklenburg County honoree as a returner. He was named the WSOC-TV Big 22 Player of the Year. He finished his senior season with 65 total tackles, three forced fumbles, two interceptions, seven pass breakups, and three blocked field goals. He averaged 28.5 yards on kick returns and returned one kick for a touchdown. He averaged 40.2 yards on punt returns, returning two for scores. He is a member of the National Society of High School Scholars.
In the spring semester of 2021-22, he made the Dean’s List for posting a GPA higher than 3.50. In the 2022-23 season, he played in two games for the Eagles and was redshirted. He played 27 snaps on defense and seven on defense. He had a tackle for loss in the opener against Morgan State. He got the start at UAB, posting a tackle.
In the 2019-20 season, he appeared in all 11 games on special teams and the defensive backfield for Elon. He ran back a 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the CAA opener against Richmond, marking Elon’s first kickoff return for a score since the 2007 season. He closed the year with 14 tackles, a fumble recovery, and four passes broken up.
In the 2018-19 season, he appeared in eight games for the Phoenix. He returned 12 kickoffs for 284 yards, averaging 24.5 yards per return. His 24.5 return average ranked fourth in the CAA for the season. He closed the year with six tackles. He returned one kickoff 43 yards against No. 21 Furman and also had a 39-yard kickoff return against Charleston Southern.
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|Nationality ||American |
|Listed height||6 ft 0 in|
|Listed weight|| 185 lbs |
|High School|| Ardrey Kell High School.|
|College || Elon College, Georgia Southern university.|
| Position ||Defensive Back