Skill players: “Yeah but I bet y’all couldn’t play our positions either!”— The Big Guy (@WeAreBigGuys) April 23, 2018
Linemen: “Bet.” pic.twitter.com/Ziim8X4rmW
Yes, this is from Clemson’s spring game two weeks ago. But what is the question of freshness when it comes to a rose as undying and sweetly scented as a three hundred pound man playing safety? A defensive tackle playing in the secondary has no expiration date, and will never have one.
This is especially true if that husky safety is defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, last seen in your likely spotlight at the national title game in 2017. That guy, the one who weighs as much as a refrigerator, but who can also pull his leg over his head and do the splits. Yes, we will help you remember, even if we really just want an excuse to post this GIF as many times as possible in our lifetime.
His technique as a blitzer on that first snap could use some work, true. (To be fair: The shock and awe effect on the quarterback’s psyche really isn’t accounted for here.)
But on the jet sweep? Oooh, baby, that’s textbook. Look at him play downhill and read through the ball fakes, ignoring the trash and getting straight to the cash. Wilkins has zero issues with traffic, maintains good eye discipline, and finishes with a clean, quick wrap on the tackle that would pass muster even by rugby standards. He’s like Budda Baker flying into the backfield, if Budda Baker spent an entire year living off his job working as a pitmaster in a Texas barbecue spot. (Correction: A pitmaster with a very, very hands-on concept of quality control.)
Also please note that the ballcarrier on the jet sweep play sees all of this happening and decides wisely to let gravity win. When dealing with a 300 pound safety barreling in on you, that’s a great rule: always let gravity win.
We’re not saying moving Christian Wilkins or any other defensive tackle to safety is necessarily a good idea. We’re just saying that it’s an idea we like, and those two things are very, very different, and usually don’t overlap. We thought Johnny Manziel would be fine in the pros! We sort of thought for like ten minutes that Auburn could sneak into the national title game this past season! We have some very bad ideas sometimes!
Still, we would like to put this out there, now that we’re considering huge men playing in the defensive backfield. Alabama defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne, without playing a single snap at safety in college, would automatically be the fourth-best safety in this year’s draft, and would probably have three INTs as an NFL rookie. Nick Saban hates fun, and the ultimate proof is that a.) he knows Payne could play safety, and didn’t, and b.) he denied the world the joys of Da’Ron Payne throwing an enraged Minkah Fitzpatrick at a petrified SEC QB.
TL;DR: The Fastball Special could have been real, y’all, and Nick Saban ruined it. WHY DOES EXCELLENCE ROB US OF SO MUCH ENTERTAINMENT?