After emerging as an All-American during the 2013 season, the Clemson defensive end continues to rack up the accolades and media attention as he enters his final season at Clemson, beginning with the first game on Aug. 30 at Georgia.
Beasley was named to the Preseason All-ACC Team and has been named a finalist for the Ted Hendricks Award, the honor given each year to the top defensive end in college football.
“I mean, it feels good. It feels real good. It’s always an honor to be on those lists,” Beasley said of his preseason accolades. “Early on in my career, the attention was a lot, but now I’ve been kind of able to adapt to it. The different settings and the atmosphere, it really changed over the years, so I’m kind of good with it now.”
In 2013, Beasley was named a first-team All-American by Athlon, Bleacher Report, CBSSports.com, SBNation.com, SI.com, Sporting News, USA Today and Walter Camp. He also was named to the second-team All-American by the Associated Press, FWAA and Phil Steele. He was a first-team All-ACC selection by the media and coaches, and a first-team All-ACC selection by Athlon, CollegeFootballNews.com, ESPN.com, Phil Steele and Sporting News.
The accolades came after Beasley established himself as one of the best defensive ends in the country with 44 tackles, 23 tackles for loss, 13 sacks, 12 quarterback pressures, six pass breakups, four caused fumbles and one recovered fumble. He led the team in tackles for loss, sacks, and caused fumbles, and was third in school history in sacks and eighth in tackles for loss. He also was third in the nation in tackles for loss, tied for third in sacks and tied for 10th in caused fumbles. He was first in the ACC in sacks, tied for first in caused fumbles and second in tackles for loss.
Beasley helped Clemson go 11-2 last season, including a win over Ohio State in the 2014 Discover Orange Bowl. He had a 17-yard sack and four tackles for loss during the game.
All his success as a redshirt junior led to speculation Beasley would be a first-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. However, he decided to return to Clemson for his final season in order to graduate.
Beasley indeed received his diploma Friday in a ceremony at Clemson.
“It really came down to my decision to ultimately graduate school,” Beasley said of his decision to forego the NFL draft for another year. “I wanted to be the first one in my family to graduate.”
Now it’s on to football where Beasley will be returning to his home state to face Georgia in Clemson’s first game.
“I have a lot of family looking forward to the game,” Beasley said. “I’ve got tickets for my family. I’m probably going to try to get at least 10 there.”
As the new season begins, expectations for Beasley are at an all-time high. However, he says he is prepared for the spotlight and is expecting another strong season.
“Last year, the coaching staff had high expectations for me, too. And so it’s going to be the same expectations this year,” he said. “I know [opponents] are going to be scheming for me this year, but I feel like the defensive linemen that we have, it’s going to be hard to really scheme against me. If they focus on stopping me, it’s going to open up for the rest of the guys, so it’s really going to be a bad idea to gameplan just against me.
“As for individual goals, I mean, I want to break the sack record here at Clemson. That’s my main goal. I was close last year. I ended up with 13. The record is 16 and to break it is 17.”
In addition to helping Clemson, Beasley hopes to develop his skills for an NFL career.
“I feel like a lot of teams have seen me as an outside linebacker at the next level,” he said. “That’s what I’ve been hearing from a lot of people, so I’ve definitely been trying to work on my drops and how I drop in coverage.”
However, before Beasley focuses on his professional career, he still has some unfinished business at Clemson.
“My main focus this year is to be a good leader for my team and to win a national championship,” He said. “I feel like we have the team to do it. We just have to play well in all of our games and take it one game at a time.”