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For Wilkins, defense is time to transform

With spring practice now completed, Clemson will turn its attention to the summer workout program,, but before that starts up next month, the next few weeks the team will go through what they call the “transformation” part of the season.

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney and his coaching staff will spend this week evaluating what they saw in the Tigers’ 15 practices, then they will begin the process of the exit interviews as they relay what they discovered to each individual player on the roster. The coaches will tell them what they expect from them over the next three months and what they want them to get accomplished before returning to practice in August.

“It is the transformation phase in our program,” defensive tackle Christian Wilkins said. “We want to transform in all aspects, in the weight room, as a defense, as a leader, just get better in all areas and with my weaknesses in my game. That is where my teams needs me.”

It’s hard to imagine Wilkins being any better. The rising junior, who also has to deal with final exams in the next month, can play and be productive no matter where he lines up. Two years ago he was a freshman All-American at defensive tackle, and this past season he became an All-American at defensive end.

He finished the 2016 season with a team-high 13.5 tackles and 56 overall. He also had 3.5 sacks, 20 quarterback pressures and batted down 10 passes.

“You are never satisfied no matter how well you do or how bad you do,” said Wilkins after he recorded five tackles and blocked a kick in the Orange & White Game on Saturday. “There is always room for improvement so I think (our defense) is solid.”

Clemson is expected to have one of the best defenses in the country again this year. It returns seven starters from last year’s unit, a unit that ranked 8th nationally in total defense and 10th in scoring defense. The Tigers also led the country in tackles for loss and led the ACC in just about every defensive category.

“The thing that I’m most pleased with is how guys are not afraid to go out there no matter if they know the play or they don’t,” Wilkins said. “Guys just want to compete and guys want to get better. They just get after it.”

Watch the rest of Wilkins’ interview with the media on TCITV:

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