Christian Wilkins is doing it all for Clemson this year.
The sophomore leads the Tigers in tackles for loss with 8.5, has three sacks, a blocked a field goal, a 10-yard run on a fake punt and has caught a touchdown pass out of the jumbo package.
Wilkins has stuffed the stat sheet through seven games, but his contributions go beyond what shows up on paper. He is also keeping the Tigers loose in the locker room and on the field as Clemson tries to return to the College Football Playoff.
“Whenever I have an opportunity I like to always mess around with the guys,” Wilkins said. “I like to be funny. I like to joke and prank whenever I get a chance.”
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Linebacker Kendall Joseph, whose locker is close to Wilkins, said the 6-4, 310-pounder does a great job of keeping the locker room fun.
“He’s always messing around… He’s always doing some kind of antic. He’s just a goofball,” Joseph said. “He loves life. He always has a smile on his face and he’s just fun to be around.”
Wilkins arrived at Clemson with a reputation of being a jokester after pulling one over on Tigers coach Dabo Swinney and defensive coordinator Brent Venables during the recruiting process.
Wilkins called the Clemson staff to let them know that he had made his decision, but he didn’t tell them right away he was coming to Clemson.
“I went on for like five minutes and made it seem like I was going to turn them down and then at the last minute I said I’m coming here,” Wilkins recalled.
He has continued to mess with Swinney since arriving on campus, including over the bye week.
“He called me Friday because he was flying out to see his girlfriend in Colorado. He calls me and he’s letting me know his flight plans. He calls me and goes, ‘Coach, I’ve made a decision. Libby and I are going to elope and we’re going to step away from football for a while. We’re going on a mission trip to wherever,’” Swinney said with a laugh. “He’s just so goofy like that.”
Wilkins’ tricks do not always have the same effect as the one he pulled over during the recruiting process.
“He knew right away it was just a joke. He shut it down pretty quick,” Wilkins said.
He also enjoys trying to lighten the mood during the game, especially in a close contest when tensions are running high.
Wilkins said he tries to make his teammates laugh whenever he senses nervousness or anxiousness.
“That’s the time when I like to have fun or lighten the mood a little bit. When things are high stress or could be tense I like to have fun in those situations and make the game easier,” he said.
Venables added that Wilkins recently messed up a fake field goal attempt Clemson had been working on in practice by picking off the pass and high-stepping into the end zone instead of letting the play finish out.
Venables said the coaching staff would have been upset with some players, but it’s hard to get upset with Wilkins.
“He’s got an infectious personality and attitude. He’s the same guy every day,” Venables said. “Ultra positive, he’s never had a bad day. Everybody loves him. He just makes everybody around him, coaches, players, people better. He’s very unique that way.”
Who: Clemson (7-0) at FSU (5-2)
When: 8 p.m., Saturday
Where: Doak Campbell Stadium
Radio: 93.1 FM
Line: Clemson by 5