The return of Clemson defensive end Vic Beasley to the program for his senior season instead of leaving early for the NFL was a huge boost to the Tigers. Beasley was projected to be an early second-round pick, but the importance of being the first person in his family to earn a college degree weighed heavily into his decision. Right now, Beasley is 25 credit hours away from graduating, and he’ll need only 10 more at the end of this semester. If he would have left now, Beasley would still have nine courses he’d have to finish. His decision gave him the time he’ll need, and an opportunity to increase his draft stock next year. I caught up with Beasley Friday afternoon to get his take on his decision and the defense. Here are the highlights of our conversation:
The biggest question is why did you make the decision you did?
Vic Beasley: I just wanted to maximize my opportunity as a player. I knew that I could get better and I also wanted to finish school.
What are you getting your degree in?
What took you so long to make your decision? What was the most difficult part of it?
VB: I want to play in the NFL, it’s always been a dream. It’s kind of tough to turn down the opportunity to go in the first round. But I looked at the big picture, seeing I could get my degree and also have the possibility of improving my draft stock.
What was your projection? I thought it was second round, but you just said first round?
VB: It was second round, but I felt like I had the intangibles and ability to go in the first round.
What were people telling you? Who was in your ear?
VB: Coach [Dabo Swinney] wanted me to come back because he felt like that was best for me. I just had people telling me do what’s best for me. It’s just tough deciding which way to go.
What are your thoughts on how good the defensive line can be this year?
VB: I feel like we can be the best in the country, returning all of our starters.
Is it unusual having the defense be the strength of the team while the offense figures some questions out?
VB: It’s kind of different. A lot of people would probably never expect the Clemson defense to be the strength of the team. I feel like we’re the strength of the team now, and everybody is depending on us.
And you’re obviously one of the leaders on the whole roster. What’s that role like for you?
VB: I feel like I’m a leader, but I feel like our whole D-line is leaders. With us all being seniors next year, we’re all going to be in the media spotlight probably. We’ll have to live up to the hype and what the coaches will expect out of us.
What do you think as a team you guys are capable of, considering how much you do have to replace on offense?
VB: I feel like we can be as good as we want to be. The defense is going to be as good as anybody in the country. Offensively, we have some unanswered questions.