Have the Tigers found a home for Vic Beasley?
It's too early to say for sure, but the move of the big, athletic man-without-a-position to 'bandit end' looks like a winner for Kevin Steele's defense.
Physically, Beasley appears well-suited to the position, which is likely to undergo some revisions as Steele transitions his defense to more 4-3 looks.
Beasley, 6-2, 225, is one of 15 redshirt freshmen who will be making debuts for the Tigers this fall.
He arrived at Clemson having played mostly as a running back and linebacker in high school, and initially lined up at tight end when the Tigers began practicing last August. He worked on the scout team as a tight end and quarterback, twice giving the Tigers their best practice look as they prepared for Auburn's Cam Newton and Georgia Tech's Joshua Nesbitt.
Beasley moved to weak-side linebacker during the Tigers' preparations for the Meineke Bowl in December, and then remained there in the spring. He finished the spring listed second to Jonathan Willard at the 'will' position.
But with an influx of linebacking talent taking the field as part of Clemson's 27-man true freshman class, Beasley was in danger of getting lost in the shuffle.
That's less likely to happen at bandit end, especially if the Tigers end up using the position more as an outside linebacker in an odd-man front defense.
Clemson's current personnel seems better suited to a 3-4 than the Tigers' familiar 4-3. Defensive line coach Dan Brooks recently talked about the interchangeability of the Tigers' big bodies up front – primarily in the context of adapting players from end to tackle positions. Rennie Moore has already made the switch, and Tavaris Barnes has been working primarily at tackle since the spring.
Brandon Thompson gives the Tigers a strong pocket-pusher and run-stopper inside, where he played alongside Jarvis Jenkins. Interestingly, Jenkins is now playing defensive end in a 3-4 scheme for the Washington Redskins, and is likely to get snaps on both the right and left sides as a rookie.
At bandit end, Beasley will work behind senior Andre Branch (6-5, 260) and first-year freshman Corey Crawford (6-5, 275), both of whom have prototype defensive end size, and are athletic and mobile enough to drop into coverage in some situations. Beasley will likely be asked to put on some weight, but could provide a different, and complementary, body type and skill-set at the position.
Out of Adairsville (GA) High, Beasley – the son of former Auburn player Victor Beasley - was rated as the nation's No. 16 'athlete' by ESPN. He made more than 160 tackles and intercepted two passes during his junior and senior high school seasons. He also had numerous recruiting offers in basketball, in which he averaged a double-double for the AAU Georgia All-Stars.