Clemson’s defensive line was already nasty in 2017. It’s going to be even nastier in 2018.
The Tigers have already announced the returns of All-American defensive ends Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant, and on Monday All-American defensive tackle Christian Wilkins revealed he’s coming back, too.
With Wilkins’s return, Clemson will return its entire starting defense line (fellow tackle Dexter Lawrence was a true sophomore in 2017), a unit that helped the Tigers rank eighth nationally in yards per carry allowed, fourth in total defense, second in scoring, tied for first in sacks and sixth in tackles for loss. The quartet of Ferrell, Bryant, Wilkins and Lawrence combined to record 25 sacks and 45 TFLs last season.
Clemson’s announcement heralding Wilkins’s return notes that the Tigers will boast a defensive line featuring three players that have recorded All-America honors and four that earned All-ACC recognition.
Wilkins is also expected to pick up his third Academic All-ACC honor later this month as well. He earned his undergraduate degree in less than three years.
Combined with the returns of All-American left tackle Mitch Hyatt and quarterback Kelly Bryant, Clemson will jockey with Alabama to enter the 2018 campaign as the national championship favorite.