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January 5, 2019
Santa Clara, California
Q. How many times you been to California?
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: This will be my first time I think playing in California, I want to say. But I've been in California a bunch. Always like it out here. Good vibe. Love the California sunshine. Not too sunny today, but just like the vibes out here. It's always cool. You feel refreshed whenever I come out here a little bit. Get to sleep in. Things like that.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: I mean, yeah. Whenever you just feel good, the mind is in a good spot, body is feeling good that's always good, that's always great. It's always pretty cool.
Just looking forward to playing here for my first time. Like I said, I've been here a good bit. AU Basketball, things like that. You know, just visiting people, family, friends, whoever. Just always good out here.
Q. (Regarding AU basketball.)
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Yeah, no, I came out here once our twice probably for AU basketball, yeah.
Q. What did you do?
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: I did it all. I was a point guard, center, forward. Get the rebound and go. That's how I roll. That's how I did it.
Q. You're back again and you came back for this moment. Talk about that.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: I mean, well, yeah, obviously this is not the only reason why I came back, but it's a part of it. Whenever you realize you got an opportunity to a continue something great like this and be a part of it, it's always special.
It's just been great. This year has been awesome. We've accomplished so much as a team. It's just been everything I thought it could be. You kind of have an idea of the potential of a team when start out, when you go through some of the workouts, but then to see it all come to fruition is definitely special.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: I mean, well, no, it's definitely going to be awesome going up against them again. I feel like as competitor you always want to go up against the best, and Alabama has been the best for as long as I can remember. They're definitely the best until someone proves otherwise.
It's definitely going to be a great challenge. I'm really looking forward to it. As a competitor, when you go up against the best you usually bring out your best. I'm excited for that.
Q. You didn't bring the trophy with you.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Yeah, I don't know what they did with it. I don't even have it. Someone else has it. I really want to know who because I want my trophy. It's somewhere roaming around. I don't know where it is, but I'm definitely going to need that.
Q. (Regarding confidence level in freshman quarterback.)
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: I mean, confidence level is real high. I mean, we knew at the beginning of the year and before the season even started we would have definitely three really good quarterbacks who could get the job done and help us win and be great players on this team.
So when the whole quarterback thing happened really didn't change. Still were really confident in what we can do. It's a team game, and obviously our confidence is real high. You see the type of player Trevor is. He's a talented player. He's young, but he has a great mind. Really smart, really beyond his years and things like that. Just a great teammate; good leader for us.
We just all got to get behind him. He has the keys to the program. We trust him and we all have mutual respect for him.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about obviously Alabama is a little bit different... (indiscernible.)
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Yeah, no Tua is great. Tua a is like what -- Tua is really good. He's such a great player. You know, he's obviously really talented and he definitely makes that offense go. He's special. It's fun to watch him on film, just the thing he can do not just throwing ball, but keeping plays alive and things like that. He's really special.
You never know what to expect from a player just watching highlights and things like that, but when you actually break down the film and watch a player and try to learn all you can, you know, and pick up the tendencies, man, this dude is really special. He's fun to watch, and I'm excited and looking forward to the opportunity to go up against him.
Q. What teacher made the biggest impact in your life?
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: That's a good one.
Q. Could be more than one.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: There has been so many. I've had a lot of the teachers throughout my life who kind of believed in me and just kind of pushed me and things like that, but I would have to say -- I would go all the way back to kindergarten. That's where it always starts. My kindergarten teacher, Miss Parker. She was great. She showed me a lot of love. That's where it all started and my first experience being out of the house and stuff. I definitely remember Miss Parker for sure.
Q. The foundation has a campaign called "It Only Takes One." Do you feel like it only takes one teacher to make an impact?
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: I definitely feel like it does. Any time you get an adult or positive figure they can always make an impact. It only takes one person to believe in you, trust in you, to tell you you can do great things in life to make an impact and make a difference.
I was able to do some substitute teaching this year, and I kind of took it is as personal challenge each and every day to be the one bright spot for kids. I never know what they're going through or what's going on in their lives, so I always try to be a positive influence. Who knows? I could be the one teacher who made that difference.
That was kind of my mindset. I don't know what the other teachers do, but I know I could have made a difference.
Q. I have to ask since you were a substitute teacher, what grade?
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: I taught -- well, I was able to do K through 12, but I wasn't really messing with the middle schooler because, you know, middle schoolers, they crazy. Yeah, they the worst. That's when they think they grown. I wasn't doing that.
I did some high school, but I really love doing kindergarten and elementary school and special ed and stuff like that. That's where I had the most fun.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Well, I would say obviously we have had a lot of great success here at Clemson. I'm so lucky to be a part of all that. It's been so special the things we've been able to accomplish individually, but more so as a team. Really I just want this Clemson -- especially the senior class -- to be remembered as a group of individuals who dominated on the football field but also dominated off the football field as well and who will dominate in life and go on to do great things in life as well.
I want us to be remembered for, yeah, the football accolades, but more so the type of people we are.
Q. You been known for keeping it light. Why is that important to have a lighthearted attitude? What does that do for your teammates?
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: This game can get really serious. It takes a lot. Takes so much time away from friends and people. We put a lot of hard work into it, so why not make it as fun as you can? Work hard and play hard. That's always been my mindset. I love the game. I love the game more than anybody, so I'm always going to try to work as hard as I can at it and do everything I can to make sure I'm the best I can be.
When it's time to go out there and play and have fun, I'm always going to have fun. You don't just work so hard so it feels like a job. I want it to be fun as well, too.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Well, yeah. I definitely feel like that's kind of just like -- it all starts -- that's just kind of like how the program kind of is installed, a lot fun and everything. Just like that's kind of how Coach Swinney approaches it and that's his mindset. He always wants us to have fun and love what we're doing. Do what we love and love what we're doing. Definitely great we're able to do that.
I'm just glad to be a part of something so special. Obviously we've had a lot of success on the field, but also have a great time doing it.
Q. Does it ever get old?
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: No, it's always fun to face the best. You always want to face the -- when you come to a place like Clemson, you want to face the best teams, best players, go up against all the top competition. That's what we have a chance to do every time we go up against Alabama. It doesn't get much better than them. You can count the championship rings. Every time you go up against them you can see why. Just a little something different from ever other team you go up against from top to bottom: special teams, offense, defense, they just do a great job and they always present such a tough challenge for us.
Q. I know Notre Dame was a huge challenge for you. (Regarding lucky socks.)
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: See, I don't know if I can do that. I like to keep my routine. I can't wear your lucky socks for you. I got my own thing I like to do, but appreciate it. I do take the gift. I appreciate you, my man. Good looking out. Good looking out.
Q. Have you heard of a TV show called the Bachelor or the Bachelorette?
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Yes, I have.
Q. Okay. We're going to have a little fun. I'm going to ask you some questions because you have seen the show. (Regarding the limo entrance.)
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: My limo entrance? Hopefully I'll be looking real nice, looking real clean. You know, a nice suit, nice fit; pin stripes look good on a big guy. I'd do something like that.
I'd come out with my million dollar smile, you know, as I've been told I have. You know, I'll come out with a rose or something. You know, some flowers or something. First impressions are everything.
Q. Can I offer a suggestion?
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: What's that?
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: That's interesting. I don't know how that will go. I mean, if she feeling it, but, you know -- (laughter.) Right, make me stand out for sure.
Q. Also on the show they go all over the world. Pick this date. It can be anywhere and do anything. What would you do to impress the girl?
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Oh, that's tough. I'm a simple guy. I like to just keep things simple. I don't really like to do too much. Maybe just a nice walk along the beach or something like that. You know, then walk into like a picnic on the beach with the sun setting or something like that. Something smooth. I'm simple.
Q. So there are 25 or 30 guys that come out of the limo. How far do you think you would go? Would you go home the first night? Make it to the end?
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: I'm a competitor. My plan would be to win, so...
Q. Do you think you would be part of the drama in the house or get a little emotional?
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: I wouldn't be, uh0uh. I wouldn't get emotional. I would definitely be laughing at all the drama and stuff that goes on. I wouldn't get into --
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Yeah, yeah, probably more of that. Maybe laughing a lot at what's going on.
Q. (Regarding No. 71, offensive lineman of Alabama.)
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: I'm well aware of that. Gone up against them every year I've been at Clemson and stuff. He's a good player. He does a really good job, now he's moved across the offensive line. He's guard and now he's playing center, but he's a very good player and does good a good job of getting its O-line going.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Yeah, it's definitely different like just with the lay of the land now. Got a lot of guys -- well, first of all, not a lot of teams can stand this success to be able to go to a college playoff four times because it's very hard to do. It's very challenging. So that for one reason.
And the other reason, you got guys leaving early and things like that. You don't really see it as much.
Q. What does it mean to you to be the first Campbell Trophy winner here?
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: It's definitely special because I didn't really think of it after I won the trophy, but now it's like -- I mean, it's just another opportunity for me to break down the barrier or misconception. I'm on a team that's playing at a high level. I'm a contributor to a team playing at the highest of levels.
I also was able to get off-the-field accomplishment for my academics and kind of for my accomplishments for my -- the whole piece really. So it's really special to me, first of all just to win the award, but just thinking like, Okay, I'm -- it's -- I just feel like I could just be a role model in a sense and like just continue to use my platform and show that you can't just be a -- that you can't just be an athlete. You can be both. You can be a student athlete and do a good job and still accomplish good things.
Q. Between the first and second quarter they're going to put you up the a video board. Did you know that?
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Oh, okay. I didn't know that. That'll be cool.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Right, probably won't even really notice it or see what's going on because I'll just probably be locked in on the game trying to stay focused. Talking to my team mates or something or Coach V or my other coaches just trying to figure out how to win the game.
Q. Anything different either team can do in order to... (indiscernible.)
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Well, I mean, first of all, we're 15 games into the season, so we are who we are at this point, both teams. We all do what we do. It's really who can do it better than the other team. Just comes down to execution at this point. Not going to be much surprises. Might be a wrinkle here and there, but really nothing different than you've seen all year. That's kind of the sense I got from watching Alabama on tape. You watch all their games. They do the same stuff and they're just really good at what they do. That's kind of just what makes them so good. They do their job and they all do it really well.
Q. (Regarding substitute teaching.)
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: I did it in the spring. That was the last time I was able to when I had a little more free time. When like the season wasn't picking up or anything like that and school was still in session. Yeah.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: I got about eight or nine guests. I got about six or seven family members. Yeah, uh-huh.
Q. Going up against Ross Pierschbacher. What's the scouting report on him?
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: He's a really good player. Just watching him on film, he's definitely one of the better centers you'll go up against and that you'll see. Does a really good job. I feel like he kind of gets that O-line going a little bit. He's kind of like the vet of the group. He's a really good player. Really strong. Really physical and things like that.
Just does a good job helping out the guards. He's a really good player.
Q. A lot of his teammates have raved about his ability to make the calls and adjust to what you guys might throw at him. Do you remember anything specific? Just a situation where you can see him adjusting and you're like...
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Not really against us because he's played more so guards the last few years. Now this is his only year at center that I can remember. So nothing really that stands out to me like that. You can see him on film a little bit like him doing a good job getting the O-line going and things like that. See the type of player he is. He's really talented for sure.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Well, I mean, I feel like the guys -- like the 2015 and even like 2014, this whole group of seniors, I feel like we all had the mindset individually and like it's become a collective thing now that we're going to leave Clemson better than we found it. I feel like each day we come to practice, come around the facility, whenever we have anything -- even when we're off the field going to class, whatever, we try to -- his beliefs and vision for the program, we try to really walk that and do a really good job of being the example for everybody else and doing our best to make Clemson way better than we found it. Just to live out the visions and ideas and beliefs of the program.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: I mean, well, yeah, I would say so, part of that just because -- you know, that's just the kind of guy he is. He's the head man of the program. He does a good job of staying true to his beliefs. He does a really good job running the program, and players get behind him and believe in him and trust him and love him for all he does for us.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: I mean, I don't know. We just kind of are who we are. We just do what we do. That's for everyone else to decide. We're not trying to be better -- like trying to be better than everyone or act holier than thou or anything like that. We're just taking care of our business and controlling what we can control. If people want to believe that and think that, that's their prerogative.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Yeah, last year they definitely did a really good job in the trenches I feel like definitely on both sides of the ball. We didn't play our best, and it was definitely just a testament to Alabama and who they are. They do a really good job. Obviously I feel like game like this, big games, it always comes down the trenches. If you don't do a good job in the trenches it's going to be a tough game for you to win. We didn't do a great job last year.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Well, I'm always confident, but we definitely got our work cut out for us on both sides of the ball. They got dogs all across the line, on the offensive line, on the defensive line. They're just so good. They're so talented. We're definitely going to have our work cut out for us.
I think by far this is the best trenches on both sides of the ball we'll go up against and that you'll see. You kind of expect that going into a National Championship game, but I definitely feel like whoever has the best trenches will win the game.
Q. How would you describe this rivalry?
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: I mean, I don't even really think it's a rivalry. I feel like they beat us more times than we beat them, and they dominated us last year. I don't feel like it's that big of rivalry. Yeah, we face each other every year it feels like. I mean, it almost feels like you can almost kind of expect to play them in a sense. Not in an arrogant way at all, but it's just like, Well, here comes Alabama again. Just preparing for them four straight years it almost feels like they're a conference opponent, because that's the only other team I've had to -- only conference opponents are the teams I have to prepare for for four straight years other than Alabama.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: No, definitely is special. I would say so, because any time you get a chance and opportunities to compete against the best it's always special, it's always fun. Alabama has been the best, they are the best. As a competitor you want to face the best, and a little something extra comes out of you when you go up against the best kind of guys.
Q. If you do win Monday would you consider it a rivalry then?
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: I mean, we'll see. Going to have to ask me after Monday if we win.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: I don't know. We'll see what's up. I might try to -- I mean, it's more of an in-the-moment kind of thing. We'll see. If we win I'll be really excited, s0 ain't no telling what I'll do.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: It's called water. That's all I use. Just natural. I just naturally look this good. Not everybody can do it. You got a good beard right there. What you work with?
Q. I'll put you on it.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Yeah? You got me?
Q. Everything is good. That's what I'm trying to ask you. How has your new Snapchat changed you as a person? (Regarding taking his job.)
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Well, you know, I could definitely take your job and do a better job at if than you. No, you're pretty good. I'm not going to say it, but I can definitely do it better. No, I appreciate my Snapchat fame a little bit. I watch ESPN Snapchat all the time, so definitely fun to be on. Appreciate you.
Q. That wasn't a paid advertisement, by the way. Kellen was talking about your dancing and you guys being the best dancers on the team.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Yeah.
Q. He said, however, you didn't have as much in the arsenal as him. Basically he was firing shots.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Well, first of all, Kellen can't dance. We all know he's not the dancer on the team. We know he can't -- like he cannot dance. He's bad. I don't know what he's talking about. I'm way better than he is. I might not have as much in the arsenal, but what I do works. That's kind of my plan.
Q. He was adamant saying you were basically a Temptations background dancer.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Okay.
Q. He stays on the new wave stuff. He can floss; you can't.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Okay.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: No, okay. That may be fair. I'm more of the old school, like I'm like the lead singer of like an old school R&B group. If we New Edition, I'm Bobby. You know what I'm saying? You know what I mean? Something like that. If we the Jacksons, I'm Michael. That's kind of my thing. He's Tito in the back. Yeah, yeah, he's Tito. Well, he's not even that good to play the bass or nothing like that. He's like a -- not even a Jermaine. He can't sing. He's more of like a Jackie I would say. He's a Jackie.
Q. Just lucky to have the same last name?
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Yeah, exactly. He's just lucky to be on the team.
Q. You'll have a lot of decisions to make in the near future, whether it's football, professional dance career, Snapchat. Can you rank those in matter of importance?
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: I would say Snapchat No. 1, because I could do that and play football. So you know -- right? And then I would say -- no, no. Scratch that. Because my dream was always to be a singer and a dancer. If there was one thing I could do really well, one gift I wish I could have, I would definitely be a singer or dancer type.
Q. You already have that.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Yeah, but I want to be able to sang. I can sing, but I can sang. You know what I mean? I want to be able to sang. It's a variation. I definitely want to be able to sang.
After that, I would say Snapchat host and then football. Yeah.
Q. Who's the most Cali guy on the team?
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: That's a good question. I would say Trevor only because he looks like the typical surfer dude. He's got the hair and he does the whole bro thing all the time. Something about him says Cali. I could see him carrying a long surf board or something like that. It's definitely Trevor. I give it to Trevor.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Oh, man. That's a good question. I would say -- I don't know. I would definitely say something like -- well, because I got to learn so much teaching kindergarten. I though I'd go there to teach them but really they taught me so much, just really like the innocence they carry and stuff. Definitely a challenge. Definitely difficult.
Just because of how challenging it was, just always try to find ways to be successful. That's really the biggest thing I would say, the biggest takeaway.
Q. You came back for a lot of different reasons. Where was playing in a National Championship?
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Well, definitely fortunate to be in this position. It's something that going back to the beginning of the season, like even in January before we started workouts, I definitely knew we had the potential as a team being, something we would be able to accomplish just to even get to this point, let alone win another one.
So I mean, I'm just glad to be here. Definitely great to see it all coming to fruition of everything we thought we could be.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Yeah. Well, I would say we all love the Power Rangers, so The Morph is No. 1. That's got to be No. 1. I definitely feel like mine is the most natural. Just the flexing of the muscles. Just like the more in-the-moment just hype about what I just did, you know what I'm saying, kind of thing. I definitely say mine is the most natural.
I like the whole Karate Kid thing Austin does and Clay with the whole (indiscernible). But he stole that. That's not his own thing. But, no, we all got some pretty good cellies.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Oh, man, hold on. Will this look bad? You supposed to know your opponents like that. But Tagovailoa. All right, here we go. T-a-g--ovailoa. There you go. (Laughter.) Got you. Oh, yeah. Right?
Q. (Regarding this matchup getting old.)
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: What I would have to say to that is just -- well one, historically Alabama has been the best program. That's just a testament to what they've been able to do and being able to sustain success. Like obviously they got talented players but a good program, you know, just being able to do the things they do year in and year out. The same goes for us. It's very hard to do. It's really not easy to sustain this level of success, whether it's winning ten plus games or -- you know, it's really hard to do. So people can get that confused.
I know people might be like, Oh, it's getting old or whatever, but I'm sure there are plenty of people saying it's old and boring will still tune in on Monday and watch the game regardless. I mean, you're watching two really good teams go at it. If you're a fan of college football, you should still watch anyway.
Q. Are they basically your biggest rival?
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: I really wouldn't say it's the biggest rivalry yet only because they've won two against us out of three. Not only that, they dominated us in the last game. So I really wouldn't say it's a big rivalry.
Obviously when you got two really good teams meeting up late in the season for either a National Championship or a playoff game, obviously can be seen as that.
Q. Tua, talk about the challenge of trying to defend a guy like that.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Tua is -- I mean, he's great. He's not like what -- he's a really talented player. He's really good. He's the kind of guy like you see highlights and things like that and, you're like, okay, this guy is good. Then you watch the film and you're like, Dang, he's actually that good. Those aren't just highlights. He's doing it every play, every game; he's really consistent. He has a great arm, great footwork. He can run around, scramble, extend plays and extend drives. Everything you think he would be, he's better than that for sure.
Q. Is this moment what you envisioned when you decided to come back?
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: I definitely knew we would have the opportunity to do something like this. I knew that was the potential of this team. It's just great to see it all come together and that we can be this in position to have a chance to do what we want to do.
Q. (Indiscernible) got emotional talking about how this is potentially the last game for this group of friends. Have you thought about that?
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: No, I haven't really thought about that too much or hasn't really hit me. I've just tried to make sure that all year long I've done just a good job appreciating my teammates, the young guys, the old guys, you know, my best friends on the team. Just really try to make sure that I make the most of it, just cherish these moments. It's not going to be like this ever again where you get a group of individuals all across the team that appreciate each other so much and care for each other, and who all have the same mindset and aren't just good athletes but good people as well.
So I'm just glad to be a part of something so special. Just looking forward to one last opportunity with everyone.
Q. Dexter not being able to play, does that add extra motivation to go out and win the last one for him?
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Yeah, Dex has been a big part of our success, you know, his three years here. You know, he's been my best friend on the team. Obviously that's my brother, that's my right-hand man, so I am definitely going to play my best obviously. Try to do my best as well as I can.
It's tough that he's not going to be able to play, but we still got a job to do. I'm just looking forward to the opportunity to go up against Alabama and putting on a show.
Q. Tell us about your relationship with Holly.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Oh, Holly, yeah, that's my girl. No, I don't know. Just me and her just connect. I'm a big fan of hers and she's a big fan of mine. She's great and she even tells my mom that -- she says that there is no one in the world that loves me more than her. Told my mom that. She was like, my mom has to split her love eight ways. Holly just loves me.
So, I mean, that's definitely great. No, we just have a good relationship. It's always a good time when we see each other.
Q. She's got melanoma. She calls you her favorite player, and she's been covering this for 25 years.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Yeah. No, that's really special to me, I mean, just to think she's been doing this for so long. And not only that, there has so many good players obviously. So many good players and so many good people who she's probably covered and been around and see.
For her to -- I mean, maybe she's just caught up in the moment, I guess. I don't know. That's really even special for her to say that. And obviously someone in the media world to have so much respect and been around a lot of people, I definitely appreciate that.
Q. When do you think it started?
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: I really don't know, but just, I mean -- I really couldn't tell you. I don't know what it is. I remember me and her started getting a little close like sophomore year. After we played in the national championship my freshman year, sophomore year we were making a little bit and doing well a little bit and she would come around obviously to cover games and things like that. We started to build a little relationship then.
Q. Did you know she had melanoma?
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: I obviously know of her situation and things like that, uh-huh.
Q. (Regarding substitute teaching.)
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: I haven't done it recently and I don't do it much now obviously because we've been in the season. I al last spring I did it. I did it for like three months and it was special. Had a lot of fun.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: I don't know. I mean, I'm a man of many talents I like to think. Who knows? I might be called to do that in the future. If I am, I would try to the best I can. I absolutely loved it. It was great being a teacher. I love kids. You've got to be patient. I didn't know if I would have the patience going in, but I did and I loved it.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: No, nothing like that. Kind of like it's funny because you got to -- as people know, I like to joke around and have a good time. There is always that fine line to where you got to be stern and strict and you also still want to have fun.
So I don't know. Like I try to just be like what I wanted my perfect teacher to be like. So that was just kind of how I approached each and every day. I would be funny walking around with the meterstick, the yardstick, maybe I would slam it on the desk here or there or, you know, like kind of use it to talk on the board or whatever, something like that.
Q. Where did you develop that passion?
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Well, really just because when I was young I always felt like coaches -- so not only like the people in my house, like my family and my mom and stuff like that -- but coaches, teachers, people outside the house always had such a big impact on me and other than my family I was really close with and people I respected the most.
So I definitely like appreciated all my teachers and coaches and people I got to meet when I was young. I definitely felt like if you could do that for somebody when I got in the position to do it, I wanted to do it and I wanted to do what people have done for me but do it even better. That's where that came from.
So I don't know. Just certain level of joy you get when you watch a kid. You can't be around kids for five seconds and not just smile and laugh or whatever at just kind of their innocence and just their ignorance; just playfully young. All that is so special to watch and fun to see.
Like, I don't know, kids are my best audience. I like to mess with kids the most because they get it. Something about them. They sense like humor and good people. I don't know, just something about kids. They're special. I definitely love being around little children.
Q. That was last spring?
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Last spring, yes, ma'am.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: This was just a bunch -- it wasn't just one specific school. I did a few different schools in a county near Clemson, probably like five or six different schools.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Substitute, yeah. I don't know. Well, I mean, it's like at the point where they almost feel like a part -- like that's the only team other than the teams in our conference that you had to prepare for four times in my time here. It almost feels like a conference opponent to an extent because each year we have to play them and prepare for them and what they do. And just even like their personnel and the people they have on the team all seem the same, so it kind of feels like they're almost like a conference opponent.
Q. (Regarding growing up in a large family.)
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: It was great. You know, I was lucky to definitely be a part of a big family. So many different personalities, different people. You were never alone. There was were never a dull moment. You were never bored or anything like that. It was always fun. We didn't always have much when I was young so you would always have to find your own ways to make your own fun and keep yourselves entertained.
Because of that, me and all my siblings are really closes to this day. It's always just special in the house and just fun. Lots of fights, a lot of fun, a lot of different things going on. Helped shape me to who I am today.
Q. How do you think you've grown in your time at Clemson?
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Well, first, like I would definitely say I didn't understand like the magnitude and the platform I had just coming into Clemson. You kind of have an idea in the sense of what you want to do. Now just being here, I learned so much more of that, kind of deeper into that, and understand like my platform and the impact I could have.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Of course, of course. That's something that is kind of engrained in me and will never really leave. It's something I always want to do, just using my light and letting it shine and just being a person of positive impact on people's lives day in and day out.
Q. What was the recruitment process like?
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Well, I got offered maybe my junior year, I think, by them. For whatever reason I didn't really pursue it that much. I couldn't tell you why, but I didn't know if it was I wanted to stay, go, whatever, but I didn't really -- it lasted a little while. Coach Cristobal recruited me most of all, but didn't really follow up much after that.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: I know that's kind of been the question, the topic, and a lot of people want to see it, but I'm going to have to do something else to keep people honest, on their toes. Who knows what I'll do? You know, it's an in-the-moment kind of thing. I hear my teammates might try to do it as well. I hear the rest of the guys on the offensive line might. I hear those guys might get on it as well and try to do the splits, too. (Laughter.)
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: It's a tough call because it's like almost like damned if you do and damned if you don't. He's just that good of a player, and you got to try to -- (laughter.)
It's kind of like -- no, it's just like -- he's just such a talented, dynamic player. He can hurt you in a lot of different ways. Even if you take one thing away he can still do whatever else he needs to do to get the team behind him and just kind of rally them and get them to be successful.
He's one of the best, if not the best, quarterback I've gone up against or seen on film. I'm just looking forward to the opportunity we have.
Q. Do you think Clemson needs to win this game to be on Alabama's level?
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: It's tough. I feel like no matter what, Alabama, because like my whole life they been that model program. They have been the -- like when you envision college football and you think about success and talent and, you know, just what a program should be like as far as winning and things like that, you think of Alabama. I feel like even if we win this game you still probably won't really think of Clemson that much.
We're just happy to be here in this position that we are and have a chance to go up against the best and play in another National Championship.
Q. What kind of leader is Trevor?
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: He's more of a quiet leader. He's definitely a lead-by-example kind of guy. You know, he's the guy who is definitely like -- he's first one to the facility watching film. Like you already know coming in Monday when we go practice he's already watched a few games, things like that.
Just on the field you know what you're going to get from him. Every day in practice you know you're going to get his best. You know he's going to be on it and put his all into each and every day and prepare as well as he can.
Definitely so great to see that from a young guy. A lot of time when you get freshman and young guys, they don't really have that mindset, that work ethic. Definitely great to see that, especially from a guy who had to be forced into a leadership role. Just awesome to see. So respectable. He's as cool as they come; quiet as they come.
Like they say, there are guys that are high maintenance and guys that are low maintenance. He's no maintenance. Doesn't take much to get him going. He doesn't expect much. Just wants to be his best for his teammates.
Q. So for Trevor's hair there is a fake Twitter account.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Yeah.
Q. You could have a fake Twitter account created for you.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Oh, my gosh. I don't know.: That's good. Do I have a fake Twitter account? Who knows. I don't know. That's a good question. Maybe just -- I don't know. That's tough. What do you think it should be? What do you think would be a good one for me?
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: You think so? Yeah, see, I didn't want to go to there, but, yeah, I mean, I guess that would probably be it: Christian Wilkins Dance Moves. Oh, yeah. Uh-huh.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Well, I mean, I feel like definitely like it's in the moment. You're not trying to like pat yourself on the back too much or anything like that, you know. You're definitely still proud and happy with your accomplishments and grateful for all you're able to do.
I feel like this is definitely one of those things like as I get older and older, the further and further away I get from it, the more I'll appreciate it and the more I'll be like, man, we really were doing it. We were really good. Right now in the moment I'm just trying to do the best I can for my teammates and this program. Take time here and there to appreciate everything we're able to do because it's not easy to do, but definitely I feel like as I get older, ten, 20 years, I'll look back, man, this was a special time, and I would do anything to do it all over again.
But right now I kind of have that sense. Man, I love being around these guys. There is no better time than when we're just hanging around in the locker room just being around each other.
It's something I'm going to miss, but I definitely feel like as I got away from it a little bit more I'll miss it more.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Biggest thing is -- the thing I've always hoped for people to say is just like obviously I've done well on the field. I've had a lot of success. That's very important to me because I love the game and I put my all into the game. Blood, sweat, tears, grinding each and every day because I want to be great at this game.
But I'm only going to have this game for a short period of my life, so I want people to know me more fore the person I am off the field. I'm going to have to live so much more life without football when it's all said and done. I definitely hope that people can appreciate the person I am and not just the guy with the helmet on and 42 on his jersey.
And that doesn't take anything away because I really do love this game. There is nothing I love more. But that's definitely what I want people to recognize me for.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Where did I take him? Well, I took him to just -- everybody in Clemson knows, but it's the Sunnyside Cafe. Just a nice breakfast spot. Got a little bit of everything. Real tasty.
Q. What's your go-to?
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: I always get like -- I kind of just make my own breakfast kind of thing because I need a lot of it. I kind of do the eggs, the cheese grits. And not just the cheese grits, but the home fries and then I get French toast too. It's pretty good there. This is just free marketing, advertising for Sunnyside. I always get like a biscuit with the apple butter. That apple butter is something special.
Q. So you got all that that day?
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Oh, yeah.
Q. Why was that important to you to spend some time with him?
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Well, first of all, I always just try to do little things here and there with my team mates just to show them I appreciate them and just to get to know them a little bit more. That was nothing out of my norm doing that. I wasn't trying to like get all this attention. It was just me doing another thing for my team mate. Nothing I would do differently. The timing of it obviously worked out well. I planned on doing that anyway.
Definitely thought it was important to take him and get to know him a little better. You kind of watch him from afar and see the things he do. You see the type of guy he is and how special he is as a person and not just as a football player. I just wanted to learn a little bit more about him, get to know him a little bit, and see where his head was at.
We talked five, ten minutes about football, and the rest of the time was just us getting to know each other; just become closer as friends and teammates.
Q. What did you learn about Trevor during the course of this year?
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Just really that -- I mean, he's kind of like the most boring person there is. Not much excites him. He just kind of like -- his face is the same all the time no matter what. He's never happy; you never really get a -- but he's really like no-maintenance kind of guy really. He just loves just being around his teammates just putting all he can into football. It's really simple with him. Doesn't take much to please him at all. Just a cool customer, cool guy, fun to be around.
Q. Will you have some favorite moments?
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Oh, definitely. The most special moments are just those day in and day out times, day in and day out grinds were nothing is really going on but just all hanging out in the locker room. Anybody who has been on a team knows that the most special times are just the days there is nothing really going on. You're all just hanging out. You're hanging out at the pool, at someone's apartment or whatever. You're making a meal together. Those are the most special times.
That's what I'll appreciate most of this year. Yeah, if we win the National Championship on Monday that will obviously be special and no one will be able to take that away from us, but I'm more of the guy who appreciates the journey. That's the most special. It's the process of getting there. When you're able to reach your goal that's obviously great; everything in between is the most special.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Well, first of all, I feel like it takes a good job by the coaching staff of recruiting the right guys and getting the right kind of guys in here that can live out what your expectations are, what your beliefs are, and how you feel.
But then also goes back more importantly just to the culture you establish with the guys in the room on its own. At Clemson we definitely like try to create a culture of just like work hard play hard just on the D-line. We're going to work as hard as we can and bust our butts in the weight room and in the film room or on the field and do as well as we can there, but have a lot of fun and enjoy it.
We created a culture like a bunch of fun, laid back guys who are just goofy and get on each other. If you didn't know us you would think we hate each other. Kind of just that fun mindset, just carrying that on. It also takes just -- the guys on the defensive line now have such an appreciation for the guys that came before us, the other D-line who done so much for the program. The only way we can thank them is by doing our best.
Q. I feel like you focus a lot on you off the field. Rightly so, your big personality. What have you improved as a football player? Because I think we've overlooked how really good and dominant you've been?
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Why thank you. I appreciate you so much. Thank you. You're special.
No, I really feel like as player I've grown. Just my knowledge of football, that's just the biggest thing. I feel like I've tried so hard to stress myself and be a student of the game and understand what offenses are trying to do, and not just our game plan but understanding the other team, the opposing team, what they like to do, like if they're in this formation or -- so that's obviously good.
My football knowledge has increased. My overall technique. I feel like when I was young it was just, go out there and play. I'm athletic. I'll be fine. Just do my thing. That can only get you so far. You got to become a craftsman, a technician. So I've tried to do that, I mean, and just really get a good feel for what goes on in the football game, different kind of blocks I'm getting and things like that.
So just definitely been great just my improvement as a player. I've enjoyed every moment of it.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Well, really just kind of have the mindset like go in there prepared and know what you're going to get. I mean, I'll take a quadruple team, 11 on one if it means we get the job done.
I mean, it's all about sacrificing and putting your body on the line and doing everything you can to make sure you're successful. Doesn't really matter to me. Just kind of have the mindset going into the game that I'm going to have to be prepared for whatever. I feel like Albert is still obviously a really good player, Nyles, Jordan, whoever is on the field next to me. If I am getting double teamed, that means they're free to make some more plays and things like that and they and all do a really good job with it.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Well, yeah, I feel like he definitely does that. Like you said, wears his faith on his sleeve. A lot of his joy and happiness comes from there and gives him a lot peace. I think that's pretty cool with him. You kind of like know guys on the team -- he doesn't really like force it on anybody. Like, oh, you have to. Nothing like that.
It just definitely -- you see where his peace comes from. You see like why he is the guy he is. He always talks about it's because of his spiritual background. It can definitely encourage guys to want to find that faith, and is definitely good because it works for a lot of guys. A lot of guys on our team have big religious background, so it's good for those guys to continue to grow in their faith and things like that.
It's also good for certain guys who might not but who always wanted to kind of grow in their faith.
Q. Where do you fall?
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: I'm definitely one of those guys who came -- that was kind of where I wanted to grow definitely coming into Clemson, and I knew I could do that here just because of everyone around. That was just one of the things I really wanted to grow in. I haven't always been great, but I always knew that's just an area I wanted to improve.
Definitely feel like I've had good teammates and obviously coaches big in faith and big spiritual backgrounds who I kind of could learn from.
Q. What does it mean for you to be recognized for your work off the field?
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: I mean, it's pretty cool, because as great of a player I've always wanted to be and always try to be, always try to make sure that people understand that it's okay to be more than just an athlete. No matter how talented you are, no matter how good you are at football, that will only take you so far.
I've always tried to be a good job of being balanced at both but dominating at both on and off the field.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: I don't know.
Q. How would it be to be able to hoist that trophy?
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: I mean, great. Have to make sure I'm doing, my overhead presses so I can lift both trophies at the same time. Be really cool. I'll be excited to be the first. Being able to do something like that will continue to just break the misconception of athletes just being athletes. Me being a Campbell Trophy Award winner, but also being a national champion, I mean, I don't think that's really ever been done, like you said.
Just be another barrier I can try to break down and break that misconception.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: There ain't one that is the biggest because they're all huge to me, from what I eat the night before to waking up at a certain time doing my little treatments. Just all the different little things. I got to have a good warmup. That's the biggest thing. I need to make sure I am out there early and have enough time to do all the parts of my warmup. If I don't do that, that can mess me up for the whole game.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: I've worn that every game this year. It's kind of just a little mindset set for me. Just like what I'm ultimately working towards, ultimately working for. Just a nice hoodie and it works. Helps me get warmed up and ready to go.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: I mean, like I was saying earlier, it's kind of tough to say just because Alabama has been so dominant for so long. You can count all their championships and the things they've been able to do. Yeah, we've done a lot and been able to be pretty successful and do a lot of good things.
But it's tough. You can't just put us up there because they've been so good for so long. They've just been really talented. They've been essentially the model program for college football in terms of winning. We're just happy to be mentioned in the same sentence or in the same championship game as them honestly.
We're just trying to take care of business. I don't know if I would say we could be looked at as the same level. Just continue to remain consistent. Not just now, but five, ten years. Kind of like how they have done. Really all I can remember in my whole life is Alabama, Alabama, Alabama. They've been good since the '90s and 2000s, and even now. Just kind of takes consistency throughout.
I'm just saying in my lifetime that's all I remember.
Q. How many routine things do you have to do before the game?
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Everything I do is a routine, yeah.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: I mean, well over 100. Probably a couple hundred. Just everything I do, it's just all little things that lead up to me putting my best -- obviously starts at the beginning of the week. Doesn't just start the day before the game. It's like, Okay, I got to do this work out in and eat this. I did this last week; that worked for me. Okay, I'm going to do that. It all leads up to the game. Everything you do throughout the week. I'm not superstitious. I'm just a little 'stitious, and everything leads up to the game.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Well, yeah. I was on the sideline. We did our play. The offense was on the field and Hunter obviously went out and caught the ball. I'm on the field goal unit so I run out on the field to celebrate with Hunter and the rest of the guys on offense.
Then we kick the field goal. I run back onto the sideline. We're all emotional, but still got one more play left. I just remember when we got to the on-side kick and the offense gets the ball again to take the knee. I just remember I was just beyond excited. All the hard work we put in that year with that team, you know, I just put it on the field. I think I tried to do a back flip. I was that excited. Just tears coming down your face.
I still got the image of just seeing everyone and how excited they are, they were, and how emotional everybody was, the confetti. Just everything. The stuff that's etched on your mind.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports