CLEMSON — Consensus All-American Vic Beasley, one of college football’s leading pass rushers as a junior, announced he would return to Clemson for the 2014 season.
Beasley re-enrolled Monday, fueling speculation he was leaning toward rejoining the team. His decision was not announced until a release from Clemson late Wednesday, the deadline for underclassmen filing for the 2014 NFL draft.
Beasley was second nationally in tackles for loss (23), tied for third in sacks (13) and tied for 10th in forced fumbles (4). He was credited with four tackles for loss and a sack in Clemson’s win against Ohio State in the Orange Bowl.
During the season, several media draft analysts projected him as a first-round pick. Beasley was willing to enter the draft this year if the NFL Draft Advisory Board agreed. An end in Clemson’s four-man front, Beasley was projected as a second-round pick. Also, at 6-foot-2 and 235 pounds, scouts see him fitting best as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 alignment.
“Explosive burst off the snap, as well as upper body strength and leg drive to effectively push tackles onto their heels with a bull rush,” wrote Rob Rang of NFLDraftScout.com, which projected him as a first-rounder for CBS.com.
Scouts, Inc., for ESPN listed him as the 36th overall prospect this year, but in an evaluation pointed out, “frame raises some concern about ability to stay healthy in NFL.”
With his decision, Clemson solidifies a potentially impressive defense for 2014. The line returns intact two-deep. Clemson loses two starting linebackers and two corners, including junior Bashaud Breeland who chose to leave early. But, the Tigers return developing depth in both areas, including a freshman class last year rich in talent in the secondary.
Under coordinator Brent Venables for a second season, Clemson was 24th in total defense, 16th in pass defense, 24th in scoring defense, first in tackles for loss and 12th in sacks. Clemson won 11 games and was ranked No. 7 in the final USA Today coaches’ poll.
Beasley was first-team All-America by the Walter Camp Foundation, USA Today, Sporting News and Sports Illustrated and second-team by the Associated Press and the Football Writers Association in his first season as a starter. He was a finalist for the Ted Hendricks Award, which is given to the top defensive end in college football, and a semifinalist for the Bednarik and Lombardi awards.
Following wins against N.C. State, Syracuse and Boston College, he was named ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week.
A backup as a sophomore, he was credited with eight sacks. With 21 career sacks, he needs eight to break the school record of 28 held by Michael Dean Perry and Gaines Adams.
Receivers Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant announced earlier that they would enter the draft.