What began with a prank call ended with a Wet Willie.

After losing to Alabama in last season’s College Football Playoff semifinal Clemson had a talented roster returning in 2018, but the Tigers’ national title dreams really began to crystallize last January, when defensive tackle Christian Wilkins called coach Dabo Swinney. A star who was sure to be coveted by several teams in the NFL draft, Wilkins gushed over his time at Clemson. Wilkins strung out his praise for Swinney, the staff and the school for what felt to Swinney like a solid minute. Swinney braced for goodbye. Instead, he got, “Coach, that’s why I’ve decided to come back.” Wilkins joined fellow defensive linemen Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant in putting off the NFL for a year. A team loaded with veterans who had seen everything and high-upside youngsters had a trio of legitimate stars returning to lead the way.