Christian Wilkins: Fierce defensive tackle, strict substitute teacher


by - Staff Writer -
Wilkins has been teaching for a few weeks
Wilkins has been teaching for a few weeks

CLEMSON – Imagine you’re a high school student and you’ve just finished lunch and walk into your next class, but instead of seeing your regular teacher, you behold the stern visage of All-American defensive tackle Christian Wilkins.

The shock doesn’t last long because Wilkins is all business.

Wilkins has been substitute teaching at Walhalla High this semester, an Upstate school in Oconee County, earning a small paycheck while expanding his horizons.

“It’s a challenge. It’s more challenging than anything I’ve ever done on the field,” Wilkins said. “It’s been going well. I have a few days under my belt. Maybe I’ll go tomorrow. Obviously, it’s been a good experience. The kids are great. I’ve been teaching high school so far. It’s just a mix. I’ve got a lot of free time on my hands now that I’m in grad school, so I’ve got to do something with my free time.”

Wilkins doesn’t tolerate any foolishness, and it’s hard to imagine anyone trying to cross the 6-4, 300-pound future first-round NFL pick.

“I’m a strict teacher. We’ve got to get down to business,” he said. “We don’t have time for games. We’ve got to get to work. I’ve got to educate the youth (he said with a smile).”

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney says he didn’t know until Wilkins told him, but nothing about Wilkins surprises him.

“That’s just typical Christian right there. I think he’s taking online classes right now this semester so he’s got a little free time to go do that,” Swinney said. “I guess they pay him 70 or 80 bucks or something to go do it. He can only do it on his off days, like Tuesdays, Thursdays, but it’s pretty cool.”

Wilkins said that as a graduate student, he needed something to do with his free time.

“I got my degree so I knew I could put it to use,” he said. “I know people who have done substitute teach and they told me that it’s pretty much your schedule and whatever works for you. That’s what I need. I need the flexible hours and stuff like that. I thought that I love working with kids and I’d love to get my hands on them and empower the youth. I felt like it would definitely be something I’d be good at. I get a good little check too, so that’s a plus as well.”

The classes have been a challenge.

“I taught an agriculture class and a science class. If you know me, I got my degree in communications so I have no background in either of those, but it’s been all good,” he said, laughing. “It’s a fake it til you make kind of thing.”

What’s it like when the kids walk into class and see Wilkins?

“There’s always a little bit of surprise like they can’t believe it,” he said. “You get a bunch of people walking by a classroom peeking in like, ‘Is he actually in there?’ It’s all good.”

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