Christian Wilkins "We've done it twice, so why not a third time?"
|Tuesday, April 18, 2017, 3:31 PM- -|
CLEMSON – The transformation phase of the college football calendar has begun, and defensive tackle Christian Wilkins wants to use it as the starting point for another title run.
The Clemson football team has played in back-to-back National Championship games, losing to Alabama in 2016 in Arizona and beating the Crimson Tide in a rematch in Tampa last January. Clemson’s defense is expected to be one of the best Brent Venables has fielded in his time at Clemson, but now that spring practice is over, the coaches have limited or no time that they are allowed to spend with their players until August.
That means it’s on each individual player to put in the work necessary to be great, and Wilkins said it’s a key part of the process.
“It's the transformation phase of the season,” Wilkins said after the spring game. “We just want to transform in all aspects - in the weight room, as a leader, and just get better in all areas and weaknesses of my game because that is what my team needs.”
The defense played well in the spring game, but Wilkins wasn’t satisfied with the results even though the teams were split.
“Personally, I would like to see more sacks and more tackles for loss from the defensive line,” he said. “That is something to work on over the summer. Hats off to the quarterbacks, because they wanted to compete.”
Wilkins made the move back to defensive tackle this spring after shifting to defensive end last fall when Austin Bryant went down with a broken bone in his foot. Wilkins stayed at end all season, collecting 48 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and 3 ½ sacks.
The transition back to tackle appeared to be seamless for the athletic 300-pounder who also moonlights as a special teams dynamo, wide receiver and lead blocker when needed. He says he was happy with the results of the spring – for himself and his teammates – but not entirely satisfied.
“You're never satisfied with how good you do or how bad you do, honestly. There is always room for improvement,” Wilkins said. “I think this was a solid spring. Just solid. The thing I've been the happiest with is that guys aren't afraid to go out there, whether they know the play or they don't, and they aren't afraid to compete or just get after it. They showed they want to get better and just get after it.
“We have a lot of guys who have been around a little while. Definitely a lot of guys who have been in the system and played a lot of football, and we’re bringing the young guys along and helping them figure it out.”
The Tigers have the chance to appear in a third straight title game, and Wilkins says he and his teammates know what it takes.
“It’s not something we really talk about,” he said. “We know what it takes, and we know the standard has been set. We know how we have to prepare and practice every day. We have to work in the weight room. We know what it takes to get to that point. We’ve done it twice, so why not a third time?”