Most collegiate athletes have dreams of becoming a highly paid, professional player one day. They train year round to stay in tiptop shape and keep their grades up in order to be eligible to play. But a few athletes choose an entirely different path after college. Christian Wilkins, a star defensive players for the Clemson Tigers, is a prime example.
Wilkins, who could have easily been a 1st round draft pick which would have secured him at least $20 million for his rookie contract, has decided to put the NFL on hold to do something he loves — being a substitute teacher.
According to the Bleacher Report, Wilkins makes about $80 a day working as a substitute teacher for various elementary schools in the surrounding South Carolina area.
Wilkins recalled how happy he was when he had a substitute teacher as a young boy. “You knew it was about to be a great day,” he said with a big smile on his face. “But I don’t think anyone thinks that when you have a 6’4″, 300-something-pound teacher walk through the door.”
Wilkins has also shattered the notion that all football players are dumb jocks. He finished his communications degree in two and a half years. Even though he has his degree in hand, he still has one year of eligibility at Clemson, which he said he plans to play before heading to the NFL.
He could have very well gone to the NFL draft this season and forgone that extra year of eligibility. Dabo Swinney, the head coach for Clemson’s football team, explained he was caught off guard when Wilkins said he would return next season.
“I was surprised that he came back because it goes against the grain of the culture and where we are in society,” Swinney said. “At the same time, it didn’t surprise me at all because that’s Christian. He beats to his own drum.”