Few players have come through Clemson and have accomplished the things Christian Wilkins did in his four years there.
The defensive lineman, who made being a football player and a Power Ranger cool, was a three-time First Team All-American. After his senior year, a season in which he decided to return to school instead of turning pro, he was named a unanimous All-American, just the fifth player in Clemson history to receiver such an honor.
Wilkins also won the Campbell Trophy in 2018, given to the nation’s best student athlete. It is affectionately known as the academic Heisman in college football. Wilkins was also a part of two national championship teams at Clemson.
The 2016 team became the first Clemson football team since 1981 to win a national championship, while the 2018 Tigers are considered one of the greatest teams in college football history, and the first since 1897 to post a 15-0 record.
However, as great as all those things are, none of it means more to Wilkins than just being a Clemson Tiger.
“It is not really the personal accolades or anything that standout to me the most. It was more so, just the everyday interaction with my guys and my teammates,” he said to Eric Mac Lain on the ACC Network’s Instagram Live on Tuesday. “You can never express it enough how special a place like Clemson is… Everyone who has been to Clemson, just loves it. You can’t explain fully, what a special place it is.”
Wilkins said he has a lot of great respect for his teammates and the culture head coach Dabo Swinney created there. They all became a family and that is what he cherishes the most about his time at Clemson.
“What we were able to build and the things we were able to do, from where we came from to where we finished when I left and just things like that,” he said. “You can’t put a price on that and that is what makes things so special. The relationships you have with your coaches, Coach [Brent] Venables, Coach Swinney, Coach [Todd] Bates, just everybody. All the families, too. The coaches’ kids, you become close with them. Just the everyday interaction and experiences, you just can’t beat it and that is what made Clemson so great for me.”
Wilkins was selected in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, going No. 13 overall to the Miami Dolphins. He became part of the first Clemson draft class to have three former Tigers selected in the first round. Fittingly, it was two of his fellow Power Rangers on the defensive line in Clelin Ferrell and Dexter Lawrence that joined him.
Ferrell went No. 4 overall to the now Las Vegas Raiders, while Lawrence was taken at No. 17 by the New York Giants.
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