Clemson junior DE Vic Beasley was one of the nation's most productive pass rushers in the first half of the season. The second half has been a different story.
Beasley (6-foot-2, 235 pounds) had nine sacks, 12 tackles for loss and 20 tackles overall in the first six games. But he has just one sack, 4.5 tackles for loss and nine tackles overall in the past four contests. He appears worn down.
He still is tied for sixth nationally with 10 sacks. But after six weeks, he led the nation with nine.
Beasley's fast start earned him notice by draft analysts and award voters. Analysts noted his speed off the edge and a surprisingly strong bull rush, and he shot up most analysts' draft boards. Voters noted his stats and made him a semifinalist for the Bednarik, Hendricks and Lombardi awards; the Bednarik goes to the nation's best defensive player, the Hendricks to the best defensive end and the Lombardi to the best lineman or linebacker.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney told reporters Monday that he thinks Beasley should return, according to postandcourier.com.
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"I don't think any of those (Clemson underclassmen) should come out other than maybe Sammy (Watkins)," Swinney said. "I think all those guys need another year. I don't think there's any question about it. If anybody's telling them otherwise, they're not very well-informed.
"... If you're not a first-rounder, I just don't think it's to your benefit to come out and give up school and an opportunity to improve your stock," Swinney said. "I've always felt that way and still do."
The question, obviously, is whether Beasley would be a first-rounder. That answer could come in the next few weeks. Clemson plays The Citadel -- the Tigers' second FCS opponent of the season -- on Saturday. But the Bulldogs use the triple option, so Beasley won't get many chances to show off his pass-rushing skills. But then comes the regular-season finale against South Carolina, a team that does throw the ball.