Beasley puts off NFL, will return to Clemson

Vic Beasley led the ACC with 13 sacks and was second to Pitt's Aaron Donald with 23 tackles for loss.

Rich Barnes/Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

By Wednesday’s deadline, a record 91 underclassmen had declared for the NFL draft — but All-American Vic Beasley isn’t among them.

In a surprise move, the Clemson defensive end announced he will be returning for his redshirt senior season after leading the ACC in sacks with 13 and finishing second in tackles for loss at 23.

Beasley starred in he Tigers’ 40-35 win over Ohio State in the Orange Bowl with four tackles for loss and a sack. Those TFLs were the most by a Clemson player in a bowl game and the third-most in any BCS game since 1999.

That all came in his first year as a starter as the 6-foot-2, 235-pounder played 304 snaps over his first two seasons.

Recruited as an athlete, Beasley bounced from tight end to linebacker before finally settling on defensive end and despite success as a redshirt sophomore (18 tackles, eight tackles for loss and eight sacks), it was unknown how he’d handle the responsibilities of being a starter.

Keeping Beasley is a coup for coach Dabo Swinney, whose roster has already taken a big hit with receivers Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant and defensive back Bashaud Breeland leaving early, while quarterback Tajh Boyd and running back Rod McDowell had exhausted their eligibility.  

Projected to be a second-round pick by the draft’s advisory board, Beasley was 36th on Scout.com’s NFL draft rankings before his announcement.

After the Orange Bowl, Beasley seemed to have tipped his hand on his decision, saying "It’s a great achievement, being able to put on a good show and leave Clemson University on a good note."

But Beasley will now return to headline a defense that returns eight starters — including the entire D-line — after leading the nation with 123 tackles for loss. A stunning 98 1/2 of those TFLs will be back.

Clemson finished seventh in the coaches’ poll and eighth in the AP with a 11-2 record.