Clemson Star Football Player Postpones NFL Career. Now He’s A Substitute Teacher

Mike Brest | Contributor

Clemson Tigers defensive lineman Christian Wilkins, who chose not to enter the NFL Draft and instead to return to school for his senior year, started a new job to make some extra money — being a substitute teacher.

Wilkins could have entered last month’s NFL Draft and many believed he may have been a first-round pick.

Instead, he chose to return for another year at Clemson with the belief he will improve his draft stock and be an even higher pick next year.

He recently began substitute teaching as a way to support himself because athletes do not get a share of the revenue they create.

Wilkins, when interviewed by Bleacher Report, he said, “Working with kids is what I’m good at, and it gives me a great opportunity to empower the youth. And being a male teacher, let alone an African American male teacher, it’s just not something you see every day.”

The six foot, four inch, 300-pound behemoth has substituted in many different roles for a school in Oconee County, South Carolina.

The first class Wilkins subbed in was agriculture. He’s also had to teach science and other subjects that required him to study the subject matter beforehand.

More recently, the Clemson defensive lineman filled in for a gym teacher. According to the interview, most of that gym class was spent playing basketball, where he turned into a center, blocking students’ shot after shot.

Another time, Wilkins was told to shadow a student with disabilities who is non-verbal, which means the child cannot talk and must utilize other methods to communicate. By the end of the day, Wilkins felt like he was making a connection with the student.

In reference to that day, he said, “This really touched my heart and was the best possible thing I could’ve gone through as a teacher. I wouldn’t have had this experience if I didn’t come back.”

Wilkins even filled in one day in a pre-k and kindergarten class at James M. Brown Elementary School in Walhalla, South Carolina.

While it’s admirable that Christian Wilkins is substitute teaching, his decision to pass up millions is a risk, since he has a limited window to make money playing football professionally.

Mike Brest

Contributor
  

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