Clemson All-America defensive end Vic Beasley said it was never more than a 50-50 chance he’d leave the Tigers for the NFL. And that made it easier for the ACC sacks leader to return to school to both improve his game and finish his degree.
Beasley had received a second-round grade from the NFL draft advisory board and some analysts had him their first-round mock drafts, usually a green light for juniors to jump to the pros. Still, Beasley took his choice down to the wire, telling coach Dabo Swinney he’d come back only a few hours before Wednesday night’s midnight deadline for eligible underclassmen to declare for the NFL draft.
“You just have to know what’s best for you,” Beasley.
Beasley sounded like he was already gone after Clemson’s 40-35 victory against Ohio State in the Orange Bowl. He had a sack and four tackles and said then it was “good to leave Clemson University on a good note.”
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On Friday, Beasley said he had never fully given up on finishing his college career before heading off to the pros.
“Nothing really changed” after the bowl game, Beasley said. “I was 50-50 going into the bowl game and after the bowl game. I literally made my decision Wednesday night.”
Beasley had 13 sacks this fall, tying for third nationally in the FBS. He has 21 sacks in his Clemson career and is eight away from breaking the school mark of 28, shared by Michael Dean Perry and the late Gaines Adams.
Beasley acknowledged the NFL’s lure was strong.
“It was just hard for me to leave Clemson University without my degree and without being the best player that I know I can be,” he said.
After this semester, Beasley would have 10 credits remaining toward a sociology degree. Beasley said his parents, including father Victor Beasley who played football at Auburn from 1982-84, wanted him to do what he felt was right.
Beasley’s return means the line from this year is intact after defensive tackle Grady Jarrett and defensive end Corey Crawford, both juniors who considered the NFL draft, also returned.
“That’s our goal, to be the best in the nation,” Beasley said.
Beasley was told he’d most likely be switched to outside linebacker in the NFL and needed to add about 10 pounds to his frame. He also understands if he puts in the work this offseason, he might add to his credentials and lock up a spot in the 2015’s first round. “I felt like that played a little bit into my decision, but not much,” he said.
Instead, Beasley followed the recent examples of tailbacks C.J. Spiller and Andre Ellington, and quarterback Tajh Boyd. Spiller returned for his senior year and won the ACC player of the year in 2009, Ellington had a second straight 1,000-yard season his senior year of 2012 and Boyd this past fall set school career passing marks with 11,904 yards and 107 TDs as a senior.
Beasley believes he can leave a lasting impact, too.
“I can be even more special,” he said. “I know they’re probably going to double team me a lot but with the guys on the other side, Corey and Grady, those guys will draw attention, too.”