Wilkins working overtime to get ready for Friday


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Wilkins has been a force at defensive end this season
Wilkins has been a force at defensive end this season

Clemson sophomore Christian Wilkins has been busy this week, on and off the field.

Yes, the defensive lineman has been preparing for Friday’s game at Boston College, but the Springfield, Massachusetts, native also has been working to find extra tickets.

But his teammates haven’t been too accommodating.

“Gosh, just as many as I can get would be really appreciated. Some of my teammates are being real difficult,” Wilkins said with a laugh. “I’ve gotta choke a couple of them to get a couple extra more tickets, but I’m hoping to get at least another 50, 60.

“There’s not enough possible bargaining I can do because they want tickets for other games, and I’m like, ‘I’m going to have people at those,’ and if I borrow from one person, it’s like, I won’t have enough. … I only get four, so I won’t have enough to get around to everybody else.”

Wilkins is expecting more than 100 friends and family to attend the game.

“It’s going to be nuts how many. I’ve just got people coming out of nowhere, third cousins, people from fourth grade that I haven’t talked to in forever,” Wilkins said. “So I don’t know who will show up at the game. Just excited to be around family and friends in a familiar place.”

Wilkins said he grew up a fan of the Eagles’ program. Springfield is about 90 miles to the west of Boston.

“Yeah, that’s the deal. Obviously, I’m going home up to Massachusetts, a familiar place to me,” he said. “I’m really excited, happy to play back home. It’s always been kind of dream for me to play at Boston College, but I didn’t know it was going to be in a Clemson Tiger uniform, so I really can’t wait for this game. I’ve been looking forward to it all year.

“When I was younger there, I was a fan of Boston College, and it was always like a big deal for guys around to get an offer or any interest from Boston College. It was really the team I grew up kind of rooting for, so I always as a kid wanted to go play for Boston College.”

Wilkins will get a chance to show his friends and family just how good a player he has become as he and his teammates get back on the field after a short week. The defensive players must work hard to get through this week after playing 99 plays in the team’s win over Louisville on Saturday.

“Sore, we’re all real sore, but we’re pushing through,” Wilkins said. “I feel like the first two days of practice this week, we’ve been really productive, had two good practices. We’ve kind of just been fighting through toughness or any injuries that we might have just to really get a good practice together. It’s going to take a lot of mental toughness this week to get ready, a short week and everything, and a lot of guys just have to be smart and get a lot of sleep, hydrate, do all the things that they need to do to get their bodies ready to play another game.”

The Tigers started strong on defense in that game against Lamar Jackson and the high-powered Cardinals offense as they built a 28-10 lead. After Louisville scored 26 straight points, Clemson responded to regain the lead and held on at the end for a 42-36 win.

“Really we just had a good plan in place. Guys executed, guys were excited to play,” Wilkins said. “We accepted the challenge of going against Superman. We really embraced it. It was a lot of fun. It was a great game. The environment was ridiculous in Death Valley. The fans came out and did their thing as we knew they would, and they just gave us a little extra oomph, really.

“We ended up playing a lot of plays, and we just really had to buck up and get it done for the team.”

Wilkins said he will continue to do whatever the team needs. He has played a lot at defensive end with Austin Bryant out, but Bryant could play Friday.

That could mean more time back at defensive tackle for Wilkins, who is sixth on the team with 27 tackles. He has 6.5 tackles for loss to lead the team along with one sack.

“I’m just up for whatever. I just want to play,” Wilkins said. “I want to have fun while I’m out there and just do whatever it is I’m asked. I’m real happy Austin’s coming back. He’s been practicing and everything, so I’m real happy for that because he’s one of my best friends on the team. So obviously I want him to get his chance and play with us. We missed him a little bit out there, so I’m happy for that.”

*Daniel Shirley is the sports editor of The Telegraph in Macon, Ga., and co-host of The Midday Sports Zone on Middle Georgia’s ESPN, 93.1 FM and 99.5 FM. Follow him on Twitter at @DM_Shirley and read his blog at macon.com/peachsports


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