Christian Wilkins has some bad news for ACC offensive centers and guards. At 6-foot-4, the junior says he is quicker, faster and stronger than he was the last time he played on the interior of the defensive line.
Clemson’s defensive tackle dropped 13 pounds over the summer and checked in for fall camp last week weighing 297 pounds.
“My strength is just as good as it has ever been so I’m even stronger,” said Wilkins, who earned All-American status at defensive end last year. “I got stronger this summer. So I can play at it. I just wanted to be at a good healthy weight so I could last really.
“I’m quicker, I’m faster and I’m still strong. I’m comfortable at 297 right now. It gives me the ability to play wherever and to play a lot of snaps.”
That’s not good news for ACC offenses, considering Wilkins was already fast and one of the best defensive linemen in the country. However, Wilkins felt he could still be better so he went into the summer with the hopes of dropping weight and adding muscle mass. He was able to do both.
“I definitely feel it,” he said. “At the tail end of the season I was at 310 or 315, and now at 297, I’m not as gassed out there. I’m running and I’m feeling good. I’m running like a gazelle or something out there so I’m definitely feeling good and seeing the difference.”
Another reason for dropping the weight was to serve as a buffer for the guaranteed weight gain that occurs for most football players during the course of the season. Wilkins does not want that to affect his speed at the end of the season when he hopes the Tigers are pushing towards another ACC Championship and another possible berth in the College Football Playoff.
“I always end up putting on a little weight during the season so I’m definitely doing (this) now so I can have a buffer,” he said. “Hopefully, I can have the discipline where I will not get back up to where I’m too heavy. Stay no more than 305 at the most.”
The last time Wilkins played defensive tackle was in 2015, where he played in all 15 games mostly as a reserve. However, he earned Freshman All-American honors after recording 84 tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss. He also had 12 quarterback pressures.
“I have done it before so I’m comfortable doing it,” Wilkins said. “Obviously, I have to put in a lot of work because, obviously, all of last season I was playing full-time end. I have done it before, I just have to get back to the little technical things about the position, but it is still an easy transition.”
And it should be even easier now that he has knocked off 13 pounds. That’s not good news for the ACC.
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