On Halloween, Christian Wilkins and the rest of the Clemson defensive line surprised head coach Dabo Swinney at his front door, dressed as the Power Rangers. Then, they went on to pay a visit to defensive coordinator Brent Venables, and defensive line coach Dan Brooks’ house.
“I held the power of the White Tiger. I was the White Ranger, Carlos (Watkins) was the Mastodon, the Black Ranger. We put big Dex (Dexter Lawrence) in pink. He looks good in pink,” Wilkins said. “There was a lot of material, a lot of pink. He embraced it. It is all love.
“Big Cle (Clelin Ferrell) he was the Green Ranger, and Jabril (Robinson), with the dreads hanging out the back of the mask, he was the Blue Ranger.”
Although it was just a costume, there are many parallels to the two units. Clemson’s defensive line has even been referring to themselves as the Power Rangers since last season.
“The D-line, we call ourselves the Power Rangers. We started that last year because I am a chronic Power Rangers fan,” Wilkins said. “I love the Power Rangers, I always did. I just brought it to the guys and they all loved the idea. Everyday before practice, that is one of our handshakes. We all morph and power up. When that helmet comes on, it is morphing time. It is time to power up.”
Wilkins even takes it one step further and incorporates his love for the Power Rangers into his on-field celebrations.
“Every time I get a sack, that is always my sack celebration, I morph,” he said.
Wilkins said it is a tradition that now gets passed down, even when players move on and leave the team. However, he feels as though the ties are stronger now that the Oculus has been added to the stadium.
“Coach Brooks is actually Zordon. That is his title,” Wilkins said. “It was like destiny because the Oculus looks like the command center. Every morning, Coach Brooks texts us when it is an early meeting and I am like, ‘affirmative Zordon. I’m on my way to the command center.’ That is always my response.”
Wilkins said his love for the Power Rangers dates all the way back to when he was a little kid, watching the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers movie on repeat.
“I used to have it all back in the day. I had the PJs, the pillowcase, everything. I was really a big time Power Ranger fan,” Wilkins said. “My brother actually makes fun of me to this day. When I was three or four years old, he used to come home everyday from school and I would be watching the movie everyday.
“When he’d leave, he’d put the movie in for me, and he would come home from school and the movie would still be on. I broke the VCR several times.”
But what do the two units really have in common?
“We are tough. We never give up, and we fight the forces of evil,” Wilkins said.