No. 2. Vic Beasley

Position: Defensive end

Year: Senior

Height/weight: 6-2, 235

Hometown: Adairsville, Ga.

Last year: First-team All-American made 23 tackles for loss and 13 sacks, the third-best sack total in single-season school history

To help get you through college football's slow days of early July -- before conference media days launch the preseason festivities -- we've counted down the 10 most important South Carolina Gamecocks and 10 most important Clemson Tigers for 2014. One Gamecock and one Tiger every day, so you can spend part of your summer studying the players who will make a difference for your team come autumn.


It takes more than one player to make a defense great. Any great defense - the Seattle Seahawks last season, the Steelers, Ravens or Bears in recent years - would agree.

When it all starts with one sack man keeping the opposing quarterback up at night - with or without the actual stats? That makes life easier. Just ask South Carolina last year.

A pair of growing points intrigue about Vic Beasley, the athlete-turned-tight-end-to-running-back-turned-linebacker-turned-defensive-end who put off the NFL for a year to a reasonable level of surprise.

One, can he truly be more of a complete three-down rusher, shoring up his run-stopping abilities?

And two, can he do it again? The sacking-everyone-in-sight thing.

Beasley made 23 tackles for a loss, fourth-most in the country, and 13 sacks, tied for third, in 560 snaps. The year before, he had eight sacks in 288 snaps. That's a rate of sacking the quarterback once every 40 plays he's on the field, which is reasonably ridiculous.

The chances of Beasley leading the Tigers in sacks for a third straight year - unprecedented in school history, by the way - are pretty good, though leave it to Corey Crawford, Tavaris Barnes and Shaq Lawson (and maybe Grady Jarrett) to have a say in that.

Really, though, if the "other" guys apply pressure, Beasley will have enough room to operate and challenge to set the school sacks record - he needs 7.5 to pass Michael Dean Perry and Gaines Adams, each with 28 - sooner rather than later.

-Aaron Brenner


Coming up: No. 1 Cole Stoudt