As the Clemson Tigers head to California to compete in the National Championship game, local students are sharing stories of the impact some of the players have had on their community.
Local elementary and high school students say lineman Christian Wilkins was one of those players. He was a substitute teacher in February of 2018.
Wilkins served as a substitute teacher for 4 Oconee county schools: Northside Elementary, Walhalla High School, James M. Brown Elementary and Blue Ridge Elementary School. In December of 2018, he graduated Clemson University with a Masters degree.
Students at Walhalla High School remember the day he stepped inside their classroom like it was yesterday.
“He just really stresses how important it is to put school first ahead of athletics,” Senior Cade Crenshaw says.
In 2017, Wilkins went viral for doing a full on split as his team celebrated their National Championship win. Local principals say they saw a different side of his goofy personality when he showed up for work at their schools: pure professionalism.
“If you’re a young person and someone comes in that has some notoriety and they make you feel valued, that’s a good moment,” Principal Steve Garrett says. “That’s something that student will always remember.”
As an All American player and William Campbell trophy winner, Wilkins has said teaching was his way of giving back and hopefully making a difference.
“I feel like young kids don’t have the opportunity to have a positive influence from a man, so I tried to do that not only as a man but as a black man,” he said during his acceptance speech for the William Campbell trophy.
This Monday night will be Wilkins’ last time playing with the Clemson Tigers.