Clemson University

Clemson’s Christian Wilkins takes home the ‘Academic Heisman’ award

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney recaps ACC championship win against Pitt

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Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins is known not only for his play on the field but also for his involvement in the community and his academic success.

The senior was honored for all three of those aspects Tuesday night.

Wilkins was named the winner of the Campbell Trophy by the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame during a ceremony in New York.

The award, which is referred to by some as the ‘Academic Heisman,’ is given out annually to the player who has the best combined academic success, football performance and exemplary community leadership.

“It’s the epitome,” Swinney said of the award during a press conference last month. “I’ve been to that banquet so many years up in New York and I’ve always said, ‘One of these days, I hope we can have a player on that stage.’ I’m so excited about that award because it’s not just football. And that’s exactly who (Christian) is. It’s been amazing to watch him for four years.”

Wilkins is not only an All-American on the football field, but he also graduated from Clemson in two-and-a-half years with a degree in communications. He is currently attending classes to earn a graduate degree in athletic leadership.

Wilkins has also volunteered for Habitat for Humanity, the Clemson Miracle Fundraiser, Colleges Against Cancer Relay for Life and the “Kicks, Cleats, Kids” initiative. He also served as a substitute teacher during the offseason.

“Christian Wilkins’ exceptional accomplishments on and off the field rank him among the best student-athletes in the history of our sport, making him the ideal Campbell Trophy recipient,” NFF President and CEO Steve Hatchell said. “He truly embodies the scholar-athlete ideal and we are proud to have him as a member of this elite fraternity. He stands as the perfect example for the next generation to emulate.”

Wilkins is second on Clemson’s team with 13.5 tackles for loss. He also has five sacks, six quarterback pressures, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble. He has also rushed for a pair of touchdowns this season.

Wilkins and the Tigers won the ACC championship for the fourth consecutive season on Saturday. The Tigers are set to face Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl on Dec. 29 in Dallas.

Matt Connolly is the Clemson beat writer and covers recruiting and college sports for The State newspaper and The State.com

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