CHARLOTTE, N.C. — After the celebration of Clemson’s National Championship died down, the reality that Clemson was losing nine key players became clear. However, throughout the day at the 2017 ACC Football Kickoff on Thursday, head coach Dabo Swinney, Christian Wilkins and Tyrone Crowder assured everyone the Clemson Tigers will be just fine.
“My mission is the same- to be the best player that I can be,” said Wilkins. “I need to help the team as much as I can and do whatever is necessary.”
Wilkins, who is going into his junior season, now has the opportunity to step into a strong leadership position to help guide the Tigers to another successful season.
“More of the leadership focus is on me, definitely as a leader, I’m trying to step up a lot more and get comfortable being uncomfortable. Be that guy who is going to get on my teammates, hold them to the highest standard possible, and I feel like I’m prepared for that because I have the guys before me who have done that.
“It’s easy to sit back and not try to lead, not to be out in front, not to do those little things to get on a teammate, to hold everyone to a high standard,” he said. “It’s easy to kind of sit back and watch somebody else do that. But I am going to have to be uncomfortable by doing that and allow myself to hold everybody to the highest standard, and even when I’m tired to push through it and be the example when times get tough.”
Wilkins’ leadership skills are not only defined as helping the Tigers win, but they also emerge from his very great sense of humor. After impersonating Swinney’s dance moves earlier in the day, he went on to tell the media about his differences with former Clemson linebacker, Ben Boulware.
“He has been challenging me like ‘Oh nobody will ever top that’ (Boulware’s capris he wore to the 2016 ACC Kickoff),'” said Wilkins. “I was thinking about doing something, but I didn’t have enough time or money to put something together. This is all I got but I still think I look pretty good. The thing about Ben and me that’s different is that when he dresses up he looks good, but I’m sexy. He pulls off some good clothes but I know how to be sexy.
“I’ve always been a guy who has tried to hold teammates to the best standard. I’ve always been someone who has tried to work as hard as I could. It’s just different because now I’ll be more vocal about it.”
Whether that “vocal” means on the field before a play or in the locker room cracking jokes, Wilkins will surely make an impact this season.
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