Clemson, S.C.—Two former Clemson players are starting defensive linemen and one former Tiger is an assistant coach for the Atlanta Falcons as they bid to win the franchise’s first Super Bowl Championship in two weeks against the New England Patriots.
Former Clemson All-Americans Vic Beasley and Grady Jarrett are starters on the Falcons defensive line, while Jerome Henderson is the passing game coordinator on the Falcons staff that has brought the franchise to the Super Bowl for just the second time.
Beasley led the NFL in sacks with 15.5, two more than any other player, and had six caused fumbles, tied for the league lead. He had 3.5 sacks and two caused fumbles in a midseason victory over Denver when he had eight tackles. He had three sacks later in the season against he Los Angeles Rams.
Beasley, who was a two-time consensus All-American at Clemson in 2013-14, was named the NFL’s Most Improved Player in 2016 according to the Pro Football Writers Association. He finished the year with 39 tackles. He had 26 tackles, including four sacks in his rookie year.
Beasley was named All-Pro and to the Pro Bowl, but he will not play in next weekend’s league all-star game due to the Falcons making the Super Bowl.
Jarrett, like Beasley a second year player, started in the middle of the Falcons defensive line this year and had 48 tackles during the regular season, including three sacks. Beasley and Jarrett were starters on the 2014 Clemson defense that led the nation total defense and 11 other categories.
Henderson played in two Super Bowls, one with the Bills and another with the Patriots, but this will be his first as a coach. Henderson is in his first year as an assistant coach with the Falcons He spent the previous four years as defensive backs coach with the Dallas Cowboys and has nine years experience as an assistant. He played eight years and 98 games as a defensive back for four different teams.
Henderson played for the Tigers from 1987-90 and he was a part of a Clemson class that was the first to win 40 games in a four-year period (40-8). His class had four straight 10-2 seasons and won four bowl games. Henderson was a starting cornerback for the 1990 Clemson defense that led the nation in total defense.
Former Tiger Malliciah Goodman was on the Falcons roster in December and played in two games before he was released just before Christmas.
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