CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — Clemson All-American 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 Atlantic Coast Conference 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 over Ohio State at the Orange Bowl. He had a sack and four tackles and said then it was "good to leave Clemson University on a good note."
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 overall nationally in the Football Bowl Subdivision. 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, just wanted him to do what he felt was right.
Beasley came to Clemson as a running back from Adairsville, Ga., and was tried at tight end before moving over to defense. A smallish, skinny lineman at 6-foot-2, 235 pounds, Beasley often seemed lost among the 300-pounders who fill the trenches.