Clemson coach Dabo Swinney didn’t appreciate Christian Wilkins’ Heisman pose
Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins was named to the All-ACC first team for the second time Monday. It was a well-deserved honor for a player who will be chasing Pitt ball carriers Saturday in the ACC championship game and NFL players a year from now.
But Clemson coach Dabo Swinney didn’t appreciate the 315-pound Wilkins striking the Heisman pose Saturday night when he was given the opportunity to carry the football into the end zone against in-state rival South Carolina. Swinney also wasn’t happy about the 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that resulted from Wilkins’ theatrics in his last home game.
The Associated Press reported Swinney “got in Wilkins’ face for a minute or two on the sidelines” after the 1-yard dive across the goal line in the second quarter. He also told Wilkins, who has carried the ball three times for 3 yards and two touchdowns this season, he will get no additional opportunities “if he ever pulls a similar stunt.”
The Associated Press also reported Swinney said, “(if former Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson) didn’t win the Heisman, Christian is not going to win it.”
In his four seasons at Clemson, Wilkins has caught two passes for 32 yards, plus added a 10-yard run in 2016.
Asked about the incident Monday on an ACC conference call, Wilkins said he understood why Swinney reacted the way he did.
“Really, with something like that, he just is holding me to a high standard,” Wilkins said. “He’s challenging me not to get out of who I am, what I stand for, what the program stands for.
“I definitely understand his frustration, his disappointment, things like that. Really, you just got to take it and own it as a leader on the team. Hear what the message he is delivering, not how he’s delivering it.
“That’s all you can do in that situation, maybe think about, ‘Was I wrong?’
“Really, take it on the chin.”
Wilkins caught no heat two years ago in a more outrageous moment when he was dancing on the field — and did a split — after Clemson won the national championship game against Alabama.
He said the video can still be found on social media.
“Yeah, definitely, it’s still everywhere,” he said. “I can’t help but see all the GIFs, all that. Things like that.
“That was a spur-of-the-moment thing. Spur of the moment, had some fun. We just won the national championship. I was going to express my excitement, so…”
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry at [email protected] or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.