NEW YORK — The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame announced Tuesday that Clemson defensive lineman Christian Wilkins has been named the recipient of the 2018 William V. Campbell Trophy, which annually recognizes an individual as the best football scholar-athlete in the nation.
In addition to winning the Campbell Trophy, Wilkins was honored as the fourth Clemson player all-time to be selected to the NFF Scholar-Athlete Class, joining quarterback Jimmy Bell (1964), quarterback Steve Fuller (1978) and center Kyle Young (2001). Candidates were seniors or graduate students in their final year of playing eligibility, had a GPA of at least 3.2 on a 4.0 scale, had outstanding football ability as a first-team player or significant contributor and had demonstrated strong leadership and citizenship.
Head Coach Dabo Swinney was among the Clemson contingent on-hand in New York to see Wilkins become the first Campbell Trophy recipient in program history. All finalists for the honor received an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship. By virtue of being selected as the award winner, Wilkins’ postgraduate scholarship was increased to $25,000.
"It's the epitome," Swinney said of what the Campbell Trophy means for a student-athlete in a press conference on Nov. 20. "I've been to that banquet so many years up in New York and I've always said, 'One of these days, I hope we can have a player on that stage.' I'm so excited about that award because it's not just football. And that's exactly who he [Wilkins] is. It's been amazing to watch him for four years."
In addition to his prolific on-field accomplishments throughout a career that already includes multiple All-America and All-ACC selections, Wilkins has also excelled academically in his time at Clemson. Last December, he earned his degree in communications, becoming the first scholarship Tiger football player to graduate in two-and-a-half years. He is currently pursuing a graduate degree in athletic leadership.
Wilkins has also been a staple in the Clemson community in both professional and volunteer roles. Last offseason, he worked as a substitute teacher in local schools, citing his desire to provide inspiration and guidance to young students. In addition, he has volunteered his time and efforts for service projects such as Habitat for Humanity, the Clemson Miracle Fundraiser, Colleges Against Cancer Relay for Life and the “Kicks, Cleats, Kids” initiative, among others.
Formerly known as the Draddy Trophy, the award is referred to by some as the “Academic Heisman.” Included below is the list of the award’s recipients since its inception in 1990.
2018: Christian Wilkins, Clemson
2017: Micah Kiser, Virginia
2016: Zach Terrell, Western Michigan
2015: Ty Darlington, Oklahoma
2014: David Helton, Duke
2013: John Urschel, Penn State
2012: Barrett Jones, Alabama
2011: Andrew Rodriguez, Army
2010: Sam Acho, Texas
2009: Tim Tebow, Florida
2008: Alex Mack, California
2007: Dallas Griffin, Texas
2006: Brian Leonard, Rutgers
2005: Rudy Niswanger, LSU
2004: Michael Muñoz, Tennessee
2003: Craig Krenzel, Ohio State
2002: Brandon Roberts, Washington (Mo.)
2001: Joaquin Gonzalez, Miami
2000: Kyle Vanden Bosch, Nebraska
1999: Chad Pennington, Marshall
1998: Matt Stinchcomb, Georgia
1997: Peyton Manning, Tennessee
1996: Danny Wuerffel, Florida
1995: Bobby Hoying, Ohio State
1994: Robert B. Zatechka, Nebraska
1993: Thomas D. Burns, Virginia
1992: Jim Hansen, Colorado
1991: Brad Culpepper, Florida
1990: Chris Howard, Air Force
Dabo said a month ago that this award is like the Heisman because of its exclusivity, and he would be as proud of this award as any.