Christian Wilkins and Tigers prove doubters wrong and that no dream is too big
|Tuesday, January 8, 2019, 8:01 AM- -|
SANTA CLARA, CA – A kid from Springfield, Mass,. and a school from a little town in the foothills of South Carolina shouldn’t be celebrating a national championship in the confetti. That player and that school aren’t supposed to make history.
All of the glory and the bright lights are supposed to be reserved for the Alabama’s and the Ohio State’s of the world.
All of that was true until Christian Wilkins and the Clemson Tigers took the College Football Playoff and the college football world by storm by dominating Alabama 44-16 in Monday night’s national championship game.
Entering Monday night, the national pundits, the Vegas insiders and most college football fans didn’t give Clemson a chance in upsetting the Tide, but Wilkins and the Tigers proved the world wrong.
“I know a lot of people lost a lot of money tonight, sorry about that. You always go with the Tigers. A lot of people had us as an underdog and a lot of people didn't think we were going to win tonight,” Wilkins told reporters following the game. “At the beginning of the year Desmond Howard called us a, 'finesse team.'
“We're just a finesse team but we won big tonight and I'm so thankful for that. You could sense it in practice. We knew would we have a chance and we would do well and we practiced as hard as we could but Alabama is still Alabama. Even when we were up two or three scores, we knew we would have to knock them out because they weren't going away. They're a great program and I have a lot of respect for those guys. Tonight, we were the ones that got it done.”
As it turned out, little old Clemson won its second title in four years and became the first team in college football history to go 15-0, something that Wilkins said should be reserved for the bluebloods of college football.
“You said it. We're the first team to go 15-0,” Wilkins said. “I don't want to disrespect any of the other teams who went before us, but when you're the first to do something, I think you earn a little respect and a little attention, but people probably don't want to believe because we're funky, ragged Tigers from Clemson and this isn't supposed to be us. We're not supposed to be here. These moments are supposed to be for teams like Alabama and Ohio State and those other programs. I'm glad the Tigers were the first team to do this.”
Wilkins won’t say it, but Clemson now ranks among those elite – one of the many reasons Wilkins and many of the other seniors elected to return for one final ride.
“It's really special. This wasn't the biggest thing and the only reason why those other guys and myself wanted to come back,” he said. “It's special because we knew this was a realistic opportunity for us to get to this game and win it. To see it all come to fruition is really great. We made a decision that no one is going to outwork us. We put in the work to get the result we got.
“All the people involved and everybody who put in the work - the coaches, the coaching staff, support staff and especially the players. We sacrificed a lot this year. We've been through a lot of ups and downs. It's just special to get to the mountaintop but the best thing about it isn't just the mountaintop moment, it's the journey - the day in and day out with the guys, the grind every day. That's what makes the moment so special.”
For a kid from Massachusetts and who chose to go to a small-town school in South Carolina, life can’t get much better but Wilkins hopes his legacy and what he has been able to accomplish both on and off the field can provide a glimmer of hope of hope for someone else trying to accomplish their hopes and dreams.
“I really appreciate the spotlight and all the attention I get but not just for me but for everybody else who I can give a little bit of hope and a little bit of inspiration to,” he said. “There are a lot of kids and a lot of people not just in Springfield but all over the world who don't have much hope. Hopefully, us being an underdog and being little old Clemson and me being a guy who probably wasn't supposed to make it to be in this position and to be a leader on a championship team can give them up and a little bit of inspiration and to let them know that it can be done. If I can do it, you can do it and no dream is too big.”