CLEMSON — Christian Wilkins, the first-string Clemson defensive tackle and self-proclaimed fifth-string running back, knows by now that when he says he wants to be included in the Tigers' quarterback conversation, the natural inclination from those who follow college football is to laugh at the jovial giant.
Known for his goofy spirit and contagious sense of humor, there is a part of him that understands what people must be thinking when he says he is worthy of taking a few snaps with the Clemson offense.
How funny it would be. How entertaining his teammates and the Clemson fanbase would find it. He gets it.
But Wilkins is also not joking — at least not totally — when he approaches head coach Dabo Swinney and lobbies for an opportunity to take one snap as quarterback in a game.
Ever since quarterback Kelly Bryant left the team in September after losing the starting job to freshman Trevor Lawrence, Clemson has had to get creative with its QB backup plan. And Wilkins, the proud owner of a degree in communications, has been refining his pitch.
With three games left in the regular season, he's feeling good about it.
It goes a little something like this:
"I can sling it a little bit. I can run the ball — everything. I feel like I should definitely be No. 3 or 4, somewhere on the quarterback depth chart," he tells Swinney.
"You've just got to get your best athletes the ball. I mean, I'm hands down the best athlete on this team. So give me the ball. Plain and simple."
Maybe — just maybe he has a point.
Swinney has said throughout Wilkins' four-year stay at Clemson that he is one of the best athletes on the team. At 6-4, 315 pounds, he is fast and strong on the football field. Off the field, he's a part-time gymnast able to do a full-on split and back flips. He holds his own on the basketball court, too.
Wilkins is quite familiar with Clemson's offense. He lines up in the backfield when the Tigers go with their jumbo package, and against Florida State several weeks ago scored a touchdown on a 1-yard run. In 2016, he caught a touchdown pass out of the same package against Troy.
Having caught and now rushed for a touchdown, all that's left on Wilkins' to-do list is to throw one — and considering how zany Clemson has been with him lately, perhaps Swinney will give him his chance.
"He's just a guy that truly, truly enjoys every day," Swinney said. "He's rubbed off on so many people over his time here and he loves it. He'll do anything you ask him to do. And he believes he can do anything. He really thinks that way."
When No. 2 Clemson plays at No. 17 Boston College on Saturday with the ACC Atlantic Division on the line, Wilkins will be just two hours from his hometown (Springfield, Mass.) with plenty of family and friends there to see him play.
A perfect scenario for him to make his debut at quarterback?
"Um, well, that's a good idea," he grinned. "Coach (Swinney) gives me a hard time. There are a lot of reasons why he doesn't want to do it, but I mean — there are more reasons why than why not, so yeah ..."
He's not giving up quite yet.