The 132 miles that separate the South Carolina and Clemson campuses from each other may not seem that long, but from a South Carolina native’s perspective it is a long road of historic tensions regarding the respect and passion each fan base has for their favorite program.
Being a sophomore from the state of Massachusetts, Clemson defensive lineman Christian Wilkins has gotten a taste of what “the Battle of the Palmetto State” is really like.
‘I saw a little piece of it when I was getting recruited. I saw how deep the rivalry was and obviously being here I got a little better appreciation of it and understanding of how big it is and how the fans hate the other fans,” he said. “It is just a really big game. I loved playing in it last year and I am going to be happy to play in it this year, too.”
In comparing Clemson-Carolina rivalry to one of the most prominent ones in the North, the Yankees, vs. Red Sox, the sophomore from Springfield, Massachusetts still believes Boston vs, New York is a step above the Clemson-Carolina game.
“That rivalry is pretty crazy, too. There is so much history with that rivalry. I would say that one was a little better though,” the sophomore said.
However, Wilkins could change his mind after he experiences No. 4 Clemson hosting South Carolina this Saturday night at 7:30 under the lights of Memorial Stadium. In doing so, the 6-foot-4, 310-pound sophomore says he is ready to accomplish a goal Saturday night that will give Clemson fans bragging rights for 364 more days.
“That is a goal of mine. I’m sure that is a goal of a lot of the other players and young guys. We want to beat those guys every time. You never want to lose to South Carolina,” Wilkins said.
It has not taken the defensive tackle long to figure out the intensity involved with the Carolina game, Wilkins is excited about experiencing his second year playing in one of college football’s best rivalries.
“I love those games where it is just really intense. I am trash talker myself so I like when other teams are coming at me. It just makes the game more fun and exciting,” he said. “It just gives you more of a drive to shut them up. It is definitely a big rivalry and I am happy to be apart of it.”