On the field, Christian Wilkins is Clemson’s do-it-all player, from defensive lineman to fake-punt specialist to jumbo-package pass catcher.
Off the field, Wilkins is Clemson’s goofy, lighthearted comedian and playful prankster.
It has been that way for Wilkins at Clemson since the day he committed.
Actually, that’s when he first pulled a fast one on Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney.
“The day I committed, I called coach Swinney, and went on for five minutes and made it seem like I was going to turn them down,” Wilkins said with a smile on Tuesday. “And at the last second, I told them I was coming here.”
Wilkins successfully suckered Swinney.
“He starts giving me the ‘I love you but’ speech,” Swinney said on Tuesday, grinning. “It’s like if you’re breaking up with the girlfriend or if the girlfriend’s breaking up with you.
“It completely caught me off guard.”
Swinney wasn’t as easily fooled, however, when Wilkins called last week during Clemson’s off week and facetiously informed Swinney that he and his girlfriend had decided to elope and that he would be stepping away from football for a while.
“He knew right away it was just a joke,” Wilkins laughed. “He shut it down pretty quick.”
Joking around like that is simply part of Wilkins’ livelihood.
“Whenever I have an opportunity, I like to go and mess around with guys,” Wilkins said. “I like to have fun. I like to be funny, I like to joke and prank.”
“He’s so goofy like that,” Swinney said. “He’s just always doing stuff like that. So, I have a lot of great memories.”
Circumstances may change, but the personality of Wilkins remains the same.
When the going gets tough, Wilkins is still, well, himself.
“That’s kind of the time when I like to have fun and lighten the mood a little bit,” Wilkins said. “When things are high-stress or could be tense, I like to have fun in those situations and make everything easier.”
Wilkins’ latest antics occurred not too long ago on the practice field when Clemson attempted a fake field goal that defensive tackles coach Dan Brooks spent time implementing.
Wilkins spoiled it in the way only he can.
“We got it all drawn up, got the scouts coached up,” Venables said Tuesday. “Christian is ready for it. It’s probably an hour and 45 minutes later, but a lot of times our guys are meatheads. They forget. So, we line up in this fake field goal and Christian jumps this little quick pass out here and house calls it.
“It made Coach Brooks so mad because that wasn’t the end of the play — it’s a double pass. Christian was high-stepping.”
Venables typically would have been mad, too.
But he wasn’t angry at Wilkins, knowing that’s just who he is.
“You can’t get mad at him,” Venables said. “I have a long list of guys that if they had done that, we’re going to get really mad at them. He’s not on that list.
“Just an incredible attitude, ultra positive, has never had a bad day, everybody loves him and he just makes everybody around him better. He’s very unique that way.”