When the Atlantic Coast Conference released its preseason team earlier this week, Christian Wilkins was mentioned more than just as a first-team defensive tackle.
The Clemson senior also finished second in the conference’s Player of the Year voting by the media, just being edged out by Boston College running back A.J. Dillon, 45-42.
It is not surprising Wilkins is thought of so well across the conference. He is one of the most dynamic players in the country with his ability to play multiple positions on the defensive line, as well as come in on offense and catch touchdown passes if need be.
However, Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables did not get too much into how they’re going to use the two-time All-American this season, just offering up the fact he will not be playing safety, which is what the 6-foot-4, 305-pound senior was doing at the end of the spring game back in April.
“We will do what we have done with him,” Venables said. “Christian has been a tremendous player and leader for us. I think he has shown his ability to play multiple positions. I’m not talking about safety (laughing). Just across the front, he is a jumbo guy that can do a lot of things.”
Wilkins’ loveable personality and attitude does not hurt either. His coaches love to have him in the team meetings and meeting rooms because he is always on and loves to cut up and keep things loose.
His energy and positive attitude is contagious to all that come in contact with him.
“The kid is one of a kind,” defensive tackles coach Todd Bates said. “What a great young man he is. A great leader, a great personality, and the thing a lot of people don’t know about him is just the effect he has on that room.
“He makes the room instantly better. He brings the same energy every day. That type of stuff is priceless.”
Wilkins is also good in the classroom and in the community. Last year, he became the first Clemson scholarship athlete to graduate from college in two and a half years, and recently he served as a substitute teacher in Walhalla, S.C., including assisting in special education.
On Thursday he was recognized for those acts by being one of the 106 players in college football named to the Wueffrel Trophy watch list. The award is given each year to the FBS player that best combines exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement.
Wilkins has also garnered watch list selections for the Maxwell Award, Bednarik Award, Outland Trophy and the Nagurski Award.
For his career, Wilkins has played in 44 games with 30 starts. He has recorded 193 career tackles, 26 tackles for loss and 10 sacks, while playing defensive tackle and defensive end on Clemson’s famous defensive front.
Venables has also found other ways to use him in his defense thanks to Wilkins’ athleticism.
“When we need to, we will put him in position when the matchups are there,” the Clemson coach said. “He also gives you depth in case something happens from an injury standpoint.”
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