GREENSBORO, N.C. - Vic Beasley enters his senior season at Clemson having recorded multiple sacks in six different games.
That's one more sacks-happy game than Jadeveon Clowney had at South Carolina.
It's one way to compare Beasley with the Gamecocks' superstar and 2014 NFL Draft No. 1 overall pick. Another would be the type of attention each received in the summertime following a record-breaking season.
"I knew if I came back, there was going to be a lot of hype, kind of similar to Jadeveon Clowney last year," Beasley said Sunday at the ACC Football Kickoff. "But I'm taking it all in stride, and I've been humble about the process."
And the way Beasley sees it, he could face similar on-field attention as Clowney did now that he's a known commodity - but that would be a mistake, in his eyes.
"I feel like I'll face the same kind of double-teams and stuff, but I don't think Clowney had the supporting cast that I have," Beasley quietly declared. "With the experience I've got on the defensive line, guys like Grady Jarrett, Corey Crawford, Shaq Lawson, Josh Watson and all those seniors, I've got more experience on my side."
Beasley even jabbed Clowney based on the never-ending questions this past spring about his on-field effort from play to play.
"He had his ways and I've got my ways. I feel like his effort was suspect sometimes," Beasley said. "But I guess that's the type of player he is, and showed what type of player he is. But he made his decisions."
The sidekick comparison is debatable - arguing Jarrett vs. Kelcy Quarles or Crawford vs. Chaz Sutton is another exercise for another day - but clearly, Clemson opponents' gameplans will center around No. 3 in orange in 2014.
That's what happens when Beasley, with 21 sacks in 26 games (2012-13), is dead-set on setting the school career record, which he can own with 7.5 sacks his senior year.
"I wanted to leave a legacy, like breaking the sack record, and setting high goals for the guys who are coming in behind me, because those guys are the future," Beasley said.
Time and time again since announcing his return to Clemson in mid-January, Beasley cited his desire to earn his degree as the primary reason he held off on the NFL Draft when he had the chance to turn professional.
Beasley will lock up his degree at the conclusion of this summer semester; besides, head coach Dabo Swinney believes football reasons also played a role in Beasley's choice to come back.
Only three consensus All-Americans in 2013 will play college football in 2014: Beasley, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston and Stanford kick returner Ty Montgomery.
That Beasley came back to school was unprecedented in Clemson history. He's the Tigers' eighth consensus All-American as a junior; the first three could not declare early for the NFL, and the last four (Anthony Simmons, Keith Adams, Da'Quan Bowers and Dwayne Allen) exercised their right to forego their senior years.
"He's a man of few words. You never really know what Vic's thinking," Swinney said. "I think he wanted to be a top-15 pick, and he wasn't going to be a top-15 pick. That's his goal."
Of course, Clowney's stats suffered his final year as a Gamecock; but pointing to just his three sacks ignores his impact on opposing offenses. Clemson defensive ends coach Marion Hobby understood that.
"Look at how he affected the quarterback," Hobby said. "He didn't sack him, but look at the two blockers he took past the quarterback and the way he affected the game."
Hobby believes Beasley will elevate his draft stock by doing the same.
"That's what we talk about. Man, you're not going to sack him (every time,)" Hobby said. "So affect that quarterback. Get him off the spot. Get him where he's throwing uncomfortably, where he's coming backwards or forwards, or you're hitting him or hitting his hand. All those things."
Whether Beasley gets three or 13 sacks in 2014, he's got bigger goals for his unit, knowing he's not the only pass-rushing threat on his side.
"Speaking for myself, I have a lot of confidence in my team, especially the defensive line," Beasley said. "Especially the whole defense. I know we have the potential to be the best defense in the country. It's all in our mindset and being committed to preparing for the season."
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