As he watched Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller get after Panthers quarterback Cam Newton on the way to winning MVP honors in Super Bowl 50, Vic Beasley was reminded of someone.
As a rookie defensive end with the Falcons, Beasley had a strip-sack against Newton to seal Atlanta’s 20-13 victory in Week 16 at the Georgia Dome.
It was the Panthers’ only loss – until they fell to Denver 24-10 in the Super Bowl when Miller’s two strip-sacks against Newton resulted in 15 points for the Broncos.
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Beasley said the Super Bowl unfolded much like the Falcons’ victory at the Georgia Dome.
“I always idolized Von Miller, watching his game,” Beasley said Thursday following Clemson’s pro day. “I think I kind of helped out too because we’re the only team that beat them prior to them playing the Super Bowl.”
Beasley, the former Tigers standout who was a first-round pick last year, smiled when asked if he noticed a common thread in the Panthers’ two losses.
“Yeah, sacks,” Beasley said. “Taking the ball off Cam Newton.”
Big turnout of NFL personnel
A large contingent of scouts and coaches descended on Clemson’s indoor practice facility to watch about a dozen prospects, including three potential first-round picks – defensive ends Shaq Lawson and Kevin Dodd and cornerback Mackensie Alexander.
The four head coaches in attendance were Mike Tomlin, Chuck Pagano, Marvin Lewis and Rex Ryan, whose son Ryan is Clemson’s holder for field goals and extra points. The Panthers sent assistant college scouting director Ryan Cowden, while Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert also was spotted.
Dodd said he has a visit with the Panthers scheduled for Wednesday. Lawson also is set to come to Charlotte, but couldn’t remember the date of his meeting with Carolina.
Study in perseverance
Clemson defensive tackle Rod Byers grew up in Rock Hill playing against Jadeveon Clowney, the nation’s top-ranked recruit in 2011 who was the No. 1 overall pick by Houston in 2014.
Byers won a state title at Northwestern High, and was a reserve for a Tigers team that played for a national championship last season.
But Byers’ Clemson career was a struggle: He made several position changes – moving to tight end in 2014 – and never found his footing.
Byers worked out Thursday hoping to catch the eye of a scout. Byers said he won’t be disappointed if he doesn’t make it to the NFL, but admitted playing in Clowney’s shadow was tough.
“Since we’ve been growing up everybody compared us and said who’s better? And he just took off and I’m like on scout-team defense. I learned so many lessons. I’m just thankful I finished,” Byers said.
“I want to play at the next level. I believe my best football is still ahead of me. But just coming here and finishing and competing and getting my (sociology) degree, that’s what I set out to do as a freshman and I’m just happy that I did that.”