Clemson Football: Christian Wilkins will prove everyone wrong


With the news that D.J. Reader will not be with the team for an unknown period of time, Christian Wilkins will have an opportunity to step into his place.

News broke just a few days ago that sent Clemson Tiger fans every where into a panic. Defensive tackle D.J. Reader decided he needed to take a leave of absence from football for a while. This sent Tiger fans all across the country into a “state of emergency” that ended playoff hopes and ACC Championship dreams. It was all over. Well, I’m here to tell you that the Clemson football season is far from being over and there is a player that is just as capable as Reader on the interior defensive line. That man’s name is Christian Wilkins.

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Wilkins came to Clemson as an early enrollee in January and began to turn heads with his size, strength, and athleticism. Since then, he has continued to improve and now finds himself in a battle with Scott Pagano, Roderick Byers, and a couple of others for that starting role. He has played hard and if you read the 5 bold predictions for Clemson football, he is my favorite to win the starting position before the season is over.

The naysayers, however, want to point out how Christian Wilkins is “only a freshman, doesn’t know the game, isn’t experienced, and won’t be able to hold his own against the senior offensive linemen he will face in the coming weeks.” Most believe he will be an elite player, but it will take about two-to-three years before he is fully developed to be a star defensive tackle.

It’s tough to convince naysayers to think otherwise, but I’m going to let you in on a little secret: Christian Wilkins is not most defensive linemen. Yes, most defensive linemen do take a year or two before they are ready to play starter minutes. Most defensive linemen can’t hold their own when they go up against some of the better offensive linemen in the country, but Christian Wilkins is not like the others.

This guy weighs in at a solid 298 lbs and can hold his own against any lineman the Tigers will face this season. Wilkins is not only strong, he is fast and athletic. His footwork is elite and that speed is going to be key in creating a pass-rusher, as well as stop the run this season. Yes, Clemson will miss Grady Jarrett on the inside, but I’m here to tell you Wilkins is probably the equal of what Jarrett was last year as a freshman.

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Yes I said that Christian Wilkins is probably equal to Grady Jarrett. Now, before you go off on me for not respecting Jarrett, I want to say I was Grady Jarrett’s biggest fan. He was one of the best defensive linemen in the country and deserved to be a first or second round pick. He was that good, what I’m saying, however, is that Christian Wilkins has a higher ceiling and is better prepared (physically and mentally) than what Jarrett was when he came to Clemson. It too Grady a couple of seasons before the light turned on, but the light, in my opinion, is already on for Christian Wilkins.

He is a beast and is only going to get better as the season progresses. When you put him on a line that features the likes of Carlos Watkins, Shaq Lawson, and Kevin Dodd, you are talking about one of the best defensive lines in the ACC. Is depth an issue? Of course. Clemson can’t afford any injuries along the defensive line or the linebacker group for that matter, but don’t discredit just how good this unit is.

If you don’t believe me, watch the film yourself. Wilkins is a man among boys and it may take a few games for him to get into a rhythm, but he will be a huge part of this Clemson defense this season. When he is on the field, the unit gets better and he will make it possible for Clemson to bring a heavy pass-rush on the defensive line this year. Only time truly will tell, but this young man is a player to watch and will do big things for the Tigers.

Next: Clemson Football: 5 Bold Predictions for the 2015 season