Wilkins to be honored during first half of title game
|Thursday, January 3, 2019, 1:55 PM-|
IRVING, Texas (Jan. 3, 2019) - Clemson defensive end Christian Wilkins, who early last month claimed the NFF William V. Campbell Trophy® as the best football scholar-athlete in the nation, will become the first recipient of the coveted award to appear in a College Football Playoff (CFP) National Championship, which this year will feature No. 1 Alabama (14-0) against the No. 2 Tigers (14-0) at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California, on Jan. 7.
The milestone creates a unique confluence of events as the recipient of the Campbell Trophy has been recognized on the field between the first and second quarters of the national title game since the 2013 season. Previous recipients have all appeared on the field with NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell for a special presentation during the game.
"Understanding the symbolism of the Campbell Trophy, the leaders of the CFP have been fabulous partners in creating a tradition to showcase the winner each year," said Hatchell. "Obviously, we now have a few new details to iron out since Christian will be playing in the game, but we could not be more thrilled to shine a light on him and all he represents during the events surrounding the national championship. Christian is destined for great things in life."
The New York Times profiled Wilkins before the semifinal game, highlighting the possibility that the three-time All-American defensive end could play Jan. 7 in the title game as well as be honored as the Campbell Trophy recipient.
"I hope I can come out and get honored in my uniform. That would be pretty cool. Maybe we'll find a bow tie or a big blazer to throw over me," Wilkins joked with New York Times reporter Marc Tracy.
As Clemson now prepares to face Alabama in Santa Clara, current plans call for a video tribute, which will not require Wilkins' participation, in the traditional slot between the first and second quarters. Coach Dabo Swinney, who will have his team focused on the game at that moment, has a deep appreciation for the award.
"I was so excited when he first got the call that he was a finalist," said Swinney in an interview after Wilkins won the award in New York City. "We do a video of the day, and that was the video of the day [click to watch]. I wanted the team to know. I wanted everybody to know. This is a big deal. I don't do it for any other award... They're all great, but they're all football awards....
"But to me, this is the epitome for what we want our program to be about, and that is truly valuing the journey over the result or whatever, the destination, and valuing education and how that empowers you for the rest of your life, and valuing all the things that you are there to tap into from career development to social development, life skills, networking, relationships and Christian is the epitome of that."