CLEMSON Christian Wilkins is not going to be paid for playing football in 2018 after opting to come back to Clemson rather than enter the NFL draft, but the Tigers’ star defensive lineman is still earning a paycheck.
Wilkins has been substitute teaching at Walhalla High this semester, an Upstate school in Oconee County.
The senior, who is known as much for his outgoing personality as he is his for freakish athletic ability, has been enjoying the experience thus far.
“It’s been going well. I’ve got a few days under my belt. … The kids are great,” Wilkins said. “I’ve got a lot of free time on my hands now that I’m in grad school, so I’ve got to do something with my free time.”
Wilkins was asked if kids have been shocked to walk in the room and see a 6-foot-4, 300-pound, All-American defensive tackle as their teacher.
He replied that if so, the shock goes away quickly.
“You’ve got to (get over it) because I’m a strict teacher. We’ve gotta get down to business,” he said with a smile. “We don’t have time for games. We’ve got to get to work, and I’ve got to educate the youth.”
Tigers coach Dabo Swinney was surprised to learn that Wilkins was substitute teaching, but he added that the communications major is probably good at it.
“That’s just typical Christian right there. I think he’s taking online classes right now this semester so he’s got a little free time to go do that,” Swinney said. “I guess they pay him 70 or 80 bucks or something to go do it. He can only do it on his off days, like Tuesdays, Thursdays, but it’s pretty cool.”
The students have behaved well for the most part, according to Wilkins. But he said sometimes, as they are walking through the halls, they will do a double take when they walk by his classroom.
“It’s always just a little bit of a surprise, like they can’t believe it,” he said. “Like you’ve got a bunch of people walking by the classroom peaking in like, ‘Is he actually in there?’ But it’s all good.”
Wilkins, who has taught an agriculture class and a science class thus far, does not plan on stopping anytime soon.
“I love working with kids. I love to try to get my hands on them and empower the youth and everything like that so I thought it would be good, definitely something I’d be good at,” he said. “I get a good little check too, so that’s a plus.”