Former coach says Falcons new DE Beasley is 'freak athlete'

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) One of Dan Quinn's first moves as the Atlanta Falcons coach was to have a basketball goal installed in the team meeting room.

Quinn might need to have a backup rim on standby. There's a new dunker in town.

Vic Beasley, the defensive end from Clemson picked by the Falcons in the first round of the NFL draft, was coached by Norman Parker in youth football and basketball in Adairsville, Georgia - about 60 miles from Atlanta.

Parker said Beasley ''shattered two rims'' before giving up basketball to focus on football when he was 16.

Parker also coached Beasley's father, Victor, who played football at Auburn.

He said he saw unusual talent when the 9-year-old Vic Beasley, who was a tailback, took control when his team trailed late in a game and had the ball at its own 35-yard line.

''I looked at Vic and asked `Can you put the ball in the end zone for us?''' Parker said. ''He said `Yes sir.' He was a real polite kid. I gave it to him 13 times straight and he broke three tackles from the 8-yard line and put it in the end zone with about 30 seconds to go. I knew he was special. I told his dad, `Your son is going to be better than you.'''

Parker attended the draft with Beasley's family at the NFL draft in Chicago on Thursday. He also attended Beasley's first news conference at the Falcons' facility on Friday.

Beasley (6-3, 246), the No. 8 overall pick, is Clemson's career leader with 33 sacks. The Falcons have ranked near the bottom of the NFL in sacks the past two seasons.

Beasley will play the ''Leo'' defensive end for Quinn. It's the spot that was manned by Bruce Irvin when Quinn was Seattle's defensive coordinator the last two years.

There were rumors on Thursday the Falcons might pursue a trade for Irvin after the Seahawks announced they didn't plan to exercise their fifth-year option on Irvin's contract.

Instead, Beasley was happy the Falcons chose to look for pass-rush help in the draft.

''I think I fit great,'' Beasley said. ''Just watching how coach Quinn used Irvin in Seattle, I think I fit the perfect role for that position.''

The Falcons gave up the most total yards and passing yards in 2014. Their 22 sacks were the second-fewest in the league.

Beasley said he grew up cheering for the Falcons but never attended a game.

''Honestly, my first NFL game will be the game that I'm playing in, so it will be a special moment playing in Atlanta,'' he said.

Parker predicted Beasley will impress the Falcons with his work ethic as well as his production as a pass rusher.

''What makes him different is his character is just unbelievable,'' Parker said. ''He's a workaholic. He loves lifting weights. ... That what I think coach Quinn will love about him.''

Quinn said the Falcons were sold on ''all the things that he could do to help our team, to help our defense, the way he plays, the style, the speed and how fast he plays, gets turnovers.''

''So it was really clear for me to see how he would fit in with our defense,'' Quinn said.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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