Christian Wilkins could be somewhere participating in a rookie minicamp this summer. Instead, he spends part of his days in a classroom, and not as a student.
The Clemson senior defensive lineman discussed his decision to forgo the 2018 NFL Draft and his time as a substitute teacher this spring with Bleacher Report’s Adam Kramer.
“Working with kids is what I’m good at, and it gives me a great opportunity to empower the youth,” Wilkins told Kramer. “And being a male teacher, let alone an African-American male teacher, it’s just not something you see every day.”
Wilkins makes about $80 a day as a teacher, compared to the millions he could have made if he decided to go pro. However, the All-ACC defensive tackle was disappointed in the second-round grade he received from the NFL. He is a projected first-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
“Everyone is in such a rush to get there,” Wilkins said. “But I want to continue to grow and build here so I can stay there as long as I can.”
In his three years at Clemson, Wilkins has recorded 141 total tackles, 26.5 for loss, and 10.5 sacks. As talented a defensive lineman as he is, he has also proved to be a pretty good teacher.
The story is filled with tidbits of Wilkins as a teacher, but the most touching is a moment he had with a special needs student, who hugged Wilkins after he was tasked with monitoring the child for the day.
“This really touched my heart and was the best possible thing I could’ve gone through as a teacher,” Wilkins said. “I wouldn’t have had this experience if I didn’t come back.”
Clemson is glad to have him back, and his students probably are as well.