Clemson junior defensive end Vic Beasley might be the most athletic pass rusher in the nation, and he has used that athleticism to notch five sacks already this season.
Beasley is small for an end (6-feet-2, 235 pounds) and strictly is a pass rusher. But he's a good one. He had a team-high eight sacks last season despite averaging just 22 snaps a game. His five sacks this season have come on 124 snaps, or one sack every 24.8 snaps.
In addition to his five sacks, which rank fifth in the nation (four guys are tied with 5.5), Beasley has eight tackles, three pass breakups, a forced fumble and two quarterback hurries. He had two sacks against Georgia's Aaron Murray in the opener, barely played in Game 2 against overmatched FCS foe South Carolina State, then bagged North Carolina State's Pete Thomas three times last week.
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Beasley is incredibly quick off the ball (he was clocked in 4.47 seconds in the 40 in high school as a 215-pounder), but he also has a nice spin move and is adept at using his hands to keep opposing offensive linemen off his body. That's important because of his lack of size: When opposing linemen lock onto Beasley, he has trouble getting away.
Beasley played running back, wide receiver, safety and linebacker in high school in Adairsville, Ga., about an hour northwest of Atlanta. Despite his athleticism (he also had a vertical jump of 39 inches), he was barely a top-500 prospect nationally because he didn't seem to have a set position. Indeed, after he committed to Clemson, it was expected he would play tight end or H-back in college. He redshirted as a true freshman in 2010, barely played as a defensive end in 2011 (16 snaps in nine games), then served as a pass-rush specialist last fall.
While he is a one-trick pony of sorts, his one trick is a trait coveted by NFL teams. He and the Tigers play Wake Forest on Saturday (the Demon Deacons have surrendered eight sacks in four games), then come three consecutive games that the scouts will be watching: Boston College (which has solid tackles in Matt Patchan and Ian White), Syracuse (Sean Hickey is a rising-star left tackle) and Florida State (left tackle Cameron Erving is a great athlete and a potential first-round pick).