By Rubin E. Grant
Whenever Homewood senior strong safety Kris Wilkins steps on the football field this fall, he craves two things: accomplishing a win and making a good impression.
So far he’s getting both.
The Patriots opened the season with four consecutive wins, beating Pelham
29-22, Vestavia Hills 6-0, Parker 20-14 and Jackson-Olin 28-6. The victory over Vestavia Hills snapped a 10-game losing streak to the Rebels.
Wilkins had a hand in each of the Patriots’ first three victories, racking up a team-leading 31 tackles, including 21 solo. He also scooped up a fumble and returned it 40 yards for a touchdown against Pelham.
“I had a solid year as a junior, but I worked really hard in the offseason because I want to get recognized by colleges,” Wilkins said.
The 5-foot-10, 170-pound Wilkins has not received any scholarship offers, but he dearly wants to play at the next level.
“I’ve been playing football since I was 4 years old,” he said. “I couldn’t imagine my life without football.”
Homewood coach Ben Berguson hopes recruiters take note of Wilkins, even in the shadow of senior cornerback C.D. Daniels, who has committed to Memphis.
“When we played Spain Park in our spring game, (Jaguars coach) Shawn Rainey said the most impressive player on our team was Kris,” Berguson said. “We played him at cornerback and safety last year, but we’re just playing him at safety this year.
“He plays safety like a linebacker. He’s a very good tackler and every time I look up he’s around the ball. He’s a student of the game and he’s all about football. I hope he catches somebody’s eye and gets a chance at the next level.”
Since He Was Knee-High to a …
Wilkins became interested in football as a toddler, when he would sit with his dad and watch games on TV.
“We have funny pictures of me sitting with my bottle and watching football,” he said with a laugh.
He and his older brother Alazae Hester-Taylor would roll up socks and put them underneath their shirts, pretending they were shoulder pads.
“I remember that,” said John Wilkins, Kris’ dad and Hester-Taylor’s stepdad. “It was on a Sunday night and the next day I went out to East Lake Park and signed Alazae up for football. Kris was only 2 at the time, so he had to wait a few years before he could start playing.”
Hester-Taylor went on to become a track star at Homewood and after competing as a sprinter and hurdler the past two years at Coffeyville Community College in Kansas, he has transferred to Saint Augustine’s University in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Wilkins also competes in track for the Patriots, not only as a sprinter, but also as a shot putter and discus thrower, despite his seemingly small build for those events.
“I made state in the discus, so that’s not bad for a guy my size,” he said.
But football is clearly his first love. And that shows whenever he zeroes in on a ball carrier.
“That’s the way the game plan is,” Wilkins said. “When our linebackers come off the edge, I try to come up and make the tackle.”
Wilkins is still awaiting his first interception. In fact, the Patriots didn’t have a pick in their first three games.
“I had one that ticked off my fingertips against Parker,” Wilkins said. “I’ll get one soon.”
And he’ll probably do something impressive with it. ❖