As the final minutes of his college career counted down, the emotions of the moment started to hit Christian Wilkins.
Clemson’s All-American defensive tackle began to cry, “an ugly cry” as he described it following the Tigers’ 44-16 win over Alabama to wrap up the 2018 National Championship. Regardless, the finality of the moment hit him, especially when his head coach, Dabo Swinney, consoled him and told him how much he appreciated all he did for the program and Clemson University.
“I was overwhelmed with emotions,” Wilkins said at the time. “I did not know how to handle it. This is really just special. As a senior and to get to walk off as the best ever and the first 15-0 team, you can’t script it any better.”
Wilkins ends his career as part of a senior class that went 55-4 at Clemson. They are tied with Alabama as the winningest class in the history of college football. They were also the first seniors in the ACC to win two national championships, while also winning four outright ACC Championships in a row.
In Wilkins’ last game, the Tigers beat previously undefeated Alabama in the 2019 College Football Playoff National Championship Game. It marked Clemson’s second national championship in three seasons.
Wilkins concluded a stellar four-year career as one of Clemson’s most decorated players in history. He was a three-time First-Team All-American and was a unanimous first-team All-American in 2018. Wilkins had 250 tackles in his career at Clemson, including 41 tackles for loss and 16 sacks. He also broke up 16 passes and had 56 quarterback pressures in 59 games.
The defensive tackle was also an Academic All-American and won the Campbell Trophy in 2018, which is affectionately known as the Academic Heisman.
In the 2019 NFL Draft, Wilkins was selected in the first round and No. 13 overall by the Miami Dolphins. Wilkins started his rookie season at defensive tackle and even caught a touchdown pass in his first year in the league.
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