We have finally landed a War Daddy DT that will be the anchor of our interior D for years to come. My apologies for the delayed post but this happened without any notice. DT Christian Wilkins is a Tiger--to day this is huge news is an understatement (I had my Trapp hating post ready but will save it for another day). He will sign in February and come in during the summer.
Wilkins recruitment has been one of those rare unknowns in this day and age of 24 hour recruiting coverage. It is fitting that he should end it with a tweet dropped out of the blue like this. No one knew where he was going--not coaches, not players, not media peeps.This wasn't the wonderful Mack Alexander misdirection of changing your mind a ton--Wilkins has just been about as tight lipped as anyone in his recruitment.
He visited Penn State, Boston College, Clemson and most recently Ohio State. Conventional recruiting talk was that he would want to stay close to home, was a homebody, and that the closer schools to his native Connecticut would probably win out. Take that conventional recruiting group think. Penn State was thought to be the leader with Ohio State as a danger and hometown BC perhaps having the proximity. Pretty much no one knew anything.
So how did this come to fruition? Brent Venables deserves the bulk of the credit here in the recruitment. He wasn't afraid to go up to Connecticut and make the contacts and do the bulk of the work on a guy that no one gave us much of a chance with. Wilkins moved extremely slow and wouldn't be rushed by anyone, which played into our favor as other big schools didn't want to invest the energy (especially if it was thought he would stay close to home). Wilkins has family in Rock Hill though, and with Venables work, this led to an official on-campus visit against Georgia State.
The official visit was key because Wilkins made some key friendships with committed prospects, enrolling early. By all accounts he appeared to really enjoy his time and hit it off with the commits, especially Chad Smith who continued to communicate. This continued in the all-star game. I tweeted about Garrett Williams being personally congratulated by Wilkins after his TD catch and the connection seemed genuine, not contrived. Wilkins didn't want all the attention of the cameras and interviews but went home and called the Clemson coaches this morning.
What'd we get?
One of the big questions nationally was how Christian would stack up at the national event with better competition. It is one thing to dominate and be the top player in the state of Connecticut but another to compete with the all-stars. These settings favor defensive lineman to a degree but all the reports came out glowing of Wilkins during practice and obviously in the game where he blocked an XP and returned it for a TD (where he high stepped into the endzone awesomely) and recorded multiple tackles. I thought he should have been the defensive MVP for his ridiculously named Team Highlight.
He showed up in great shape and ready to play. He dominated the interior line for most of the game. He is violent, plays with good leverage and pad level, and has elite athleticism at the position. War Daddy. This guy is going to anchor our interior line for years to come and will start in the 2-deep sometime next year. I expect him to make a jump in the rankings and be close to, if not, a 5* player. I think he is arguably the top defensive tackle in the class, probably behind Trenton Thompson and maybe Mckenzie--top 3 in the country though at DT. Certainly above Shy Tuttle who is way overrated and Roseboro among others. He was the top of our board after Thompson committed early to Georgia.
Not many flaws in his game right now. Will need to continue to use his hands effectively but he has the feet and strength to compete already. At other camp settings some had noted that he needed to keep his weight down and continue to make strength gains but that has already happened. He was fit at 305 at the UA game and everything you want at the position.
I think he will have a better career than Mont Adams and be a disruptive force like Jarrett very soon. Amazing. This is a guy you can beat FSU with and get to the playoffs. He makes the team better next year. Huggins will eventually get there but I won't feel confident playing him more than situationally next year. Wilkins is ready to play.
Ultimately, Clemson fans should be ecstatic today. We landed a big fish on the D-line. Bring in Fields and this becomes a championship caliber class. If anyone has any more questions--please go ahead and ask them. Playing football in Connecticut with the snow and horse pasture in the background--classic (you can see he has already progressed in reshaping his body from what you see on tape to the UA game). I want to see some happy gif posts. Dabo pulls a ridiculous move like adding Amir Trapp but then turns around and gets this. Such is Dabo...