Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins let it be known that Kelly Bryant is his quarterback, and he says Tiger fans need to let him be theirs as well.
Wilkins told the media on Tuesday, as No. 5 Clemson gets set to host Kent State on Saturday in the season opener for both teams, that there is no doubt in his mind Bryant can lead the Tigers this season. Bryant of course was named the starting quarterback last week by head coach Dabo Swinney after beating out freshmen Zerrick Cooper and Hunter Johnson in fall camp.
Bryant has big shoes to fill as he replaces two-time Heisman Trophy Finalist Deshaun Watson, who led the Clemson program to its first national championship since 1981 this past January.
“I’m actually excited to see what Kelly can do,” Wilkins said. “He is my quarterback. He and Tucker (Israel) are the guys that I came in with. They are a part of the 2015 Class. I’m really excited to see what Kelly is going to do. I have all the faith in Kelly that he can get the job done and I’m really excited that he is our starter.”
The All-American, who is considered one the best defensive players in the country, wants Clemson fans to get behind Bryant the way they got behind Watson the last three years.
“I think if Clemson nation gets behind Kelly, or whoever the quarterback is throughout the season, then they are going to do a great job,” he said. “That is my challenge to Clemson Nation, and everybody else, is to show support really and that same love number four got last year and the years before.
“I know it is going to have to be earned, but definitely Tiger Nation should give that same love and respect to whoever our starting quarterback is because whoever is our quarterback is going to be able to get the job done.”
In Clemson’s last two scrimmages, Bryant impressed Wilkins and the rest of the defense by completing 24 of 37 passes for 363 yards and two touchdowns.
“Kelly is making tighter throws,” Wilkins said. “He is throwing it maybe in certain windows here and there and just really seems calm and cool at all times. He is not letting things be too big or too challenging for him. He just seems real calm and cool.
“There is a reason why he is the starter and leader now on our offense.”