The least-surprised person when Vic Beasley posted eyebrow-raising numbers at last week’s NFL Combine was Clemson coach Dabo Swinney.
Swinney had seen it all before.
“He’s been turning heads around here for a while,” Swinney said. “He was a weight-room freak around here forever. You don’t go off for five weeks and become Vic Beasley; that’s a five-year process.”
Physical attributes aside, Beasley’s character and academic dedication also were off the charts during his career at Clemson, and those attributes will be the focus of his message Monday night when he and former University of South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw join forces for a Coaches 4 Character presentation at Greenville’s Redemption World Outreach Center.
Beasley and Shaw – whose appearance is billed as “Two Competitors: One Cause” – seem a perfect fit for the Coaches 4 Character’s primary mission, which is to “teach at-risk youth the value of education and character development.”
Beasley, a defensive end who is expected to be picked in the upper half of the first round of April’s NFL Draft, and Shaw, the winningest quarterback in South Carolina football history and now a member of the Cleveland Browns, also are strong proponents of off-the-field success.
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The only time Beasley and Shaw have been up close and personal was when Beasley sacked Shaw on two occasions during the Gamecocks’ win in 2013, but they’ll be converging for a different reason Monday night.
“First and foremost, success starts in the classroom,” Shaw said. “It doesn’t really matter how you were brought up or who you were brought up by. The choice is yours on who you want to be.”
Beasley’s big choice came last year, when he could have passed up his senior season at Clemson for a jump-start on his professional career. But after pondering his options, returning to school and earning a degree won out.
He graduated last August with a degree in sociology.
Now he’s more than set for a career in the NFL – and more than that in his post-football life or if his path should take unexpected twists or turns along the way.
“Growing up, my mom and dad always pushed academics,” Beasley said. “No one in our house had ever gotten a college degree and I wanted to be the first to do that. That was my main goal.”
Beasley hopes that today’s youth embrace a similar goal.
“I hope that I set a standard for a lot of kids,” Beasley said. “Athletic opportunities aren’t always there, so you want to be safe and do what you can do get that degree. I stuck to my core values and that’s important.
“I want to tell kids to strive for greatness and not to let anyone put limitations on you. If you do that, there’s no telling how far you can go or what can you can do.”
IF YOU GO
What: Coaches 4 Character program featuring Vic Beasley and Connor Shaw
When: Monday, 7 p.m.
Where: Redemption World Outreach Center, 635 Haywood Rd., Greenville
Cost: Free for students, $5 for adults
Also: Reception for Beasley and Shaw, 5 p.m. at Downtown Courtyard Marriott, Greenville, $50, includes cocktails and hors d’oeurves
Contact: Greg Blatt (843) 816-3297 or firstname.lastname@example.org