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Clemson DE Wilkins has apologized for groping Buckeye player
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By PETE IACOBELLI
CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) Clemson defensive end Christian Wilkins has apologized for groping receiver Curtis Samuel during the Fiesta Bowl on Saturday night.
Wilkins said Wednesday he had talked with Samuel after the game and that everything was all right between them. Wilkins, a sophomore defensive end, was seen on video grabbing Samuel's rear and reaching his hand between the receiver's legs while Samuel was on the ground after teammates had tackled him in the Tigers' 31-0 victory.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said he spoke with Wilkins after the incident and was satisfied with the apology.
Tigers linebacker Ben Boulware said too much is being made of Wilkins' actions and that such things have always been a part of football.
Clemson faces Alabama for the national championship Monday night.
Wilkins said he was sorry and understood it was not "a good look" for him or the program.
Swinney shook his head when asked if he had talked to Wilkins about the incident. After the discussion, Swinney said he was sure it would not happen again and chalked it up to Wilkins' goofy nature.
"We don't have a better young man on the team than Christian Wilkins," Swinney said. "Apologized for it, apologized to the kid, that's really it."
Boulware supported Wilkins, saying that kind of interplay often takes place in games.
"He went a little too far. But when I'm just messing with somebody, poking them in the belly button or grabbing someone's butt, it's just to break up the seriousness of the game," Boulware said at Clemson's team media gathering. "The people who are freaking out about that have never played the game."
The third-ranked Tigers (13-1) are facing No. 1 Alabama in Tampa, Florida in the national championship for a second straight season. The Crimson Tide won last year's matchup, 45-40, in Glendale, Arizona.
Alabama's 6-foot-6, 310-pound left tackle Cam Robinson had a quick answer when asked Wedneday night about the incident.
"They better not try me like that," Robinson said. "That's the only thing I've got to say about that."
More AP college football: www.collegefootball.ap.org
Updated January 4, 2017