Though backup defensive end Richard Yeargin is out for the season with a neck injury following last week’s car accident in Greenville, S.C., don’t expect to see Christian Wilkins playing his position this fall because of it.
Clemson’s defensive tackle, who was an All-American at defensive end last year when he filled in for an injured Austin Bryant, isn’t likely to move back. However, Wilkins did say in the spring that he will do whatever the coaches ask him to do whether that means playing defensive tackle, defensive end or both.
“If they want me to play inside, I’ll play inside, obviously if they want me outside I’ll play outside,” he said. “I’m obviously comfortable at both. I have a year of experience at each so I’m good to go wherever they need me.”
But more than likely defensive coordinator Brent Venables does not need him on the outside. Bryant took his old spot back in the spring and Wilkins moved back inside. Clelin Ferrell will start opposite Bryant, while Chis Register, Xavier Kelly, Lasamuel Davis and incoming freshman Jordan Williams will provide plenty of depth for the time being.
“We just got a lot of guys that have been around for a little while,” Wilkins said before Yeargin’s injury. “You know me, Austin, Clelin, have been around for years, Chris and Richard they’ve been around four years and whatnot. So yeah, I know there are definitely a lot of guys who have been able to play a lot of football and have been in the system for a while, some guys who are getting more comfortable and we got some young guys around too … Young guys coming along and trying to go after it.”
One of the young guys getting after it on the interior line is Nyles Pinckney. The redshirt freshman had one of the better springs of anyone on the defensive line and the coaching staff is expecting big things out of him this fall.
“Nyles has been working,” Wilkins said. “He’s always been a tough player and a tough competitor since he’s gotten here. Obviously d-tackle is a big thing for us and you know having guys that can go out there is real big.
“The more depth he can create on the inside is always a big plus for us.”
Joining Wilkins and Pinckney on the inside is Dexter Lawrence, Jabril Robinson and Albert Huggins.
Clemson players continue to work out this summer and will be begin fall training camp in August. The Tigers open the season on Sept. 2 in Death Valley against Kent State. That game is scheduled to kick off at noon and will be televised by ESPN.