The popular census among South Carolina's coaching staff was that Clifton could be a first-round pick next year. Each of Clifton's coaches wanted him to play out his senior season.
The discussions he had with his uncle and brother likely weighed heavier on his decision.
DL Clifton Geathers
In Indianapolis, Clifton measured in at 6-foot-7, 299 pounds. He failed to make the top results in the bench press, but he also needed to impress in media and team interviews as well. Clifton had to explain to teams his 2009 chargers of disorderly conduct, public drunkenness and resisting arrest.
All the pieces of the puzzle must fit together for a team to take a chance on Clifton. San Francisco 49ers coach Mike Singletary said for him, film is the biggest piece of the pie, but the Combine also gives coaches a chance to see how guys are wired up.
Two combines ago, his cousin Jeremy Geathers fielded similar questions. In 2008, Jeremy registered two tackles in as many preseason games. Jeremy, a former undrafted free agent, appears to be off the NFL radar.
Clifton hopes to be more like Jeremy's dad who enjoyed a dozen-plus-year career in the league. Similar to Jumpy, Clifton puts a priority on hunting down the signal caller.
"That's one thing a defensive player loves doing is getting after the quarterback, because you don't get there many times," Clifton said.
Clifton got after the quarterback just five times in his college career. Perhaps he still had an offensive mindset. Clifton was an All-American offensive tackle in high school. Heading into college, Clifton said Coach Steve Spurrier wanted him to play left tackle.
"I decided I wanted to play defensive end, defensive tackle," Clifton said. "I love the defensive side of the ball. I like hitting. I don't like taking hits."
Spurrier wasn't on board at first. Clifton lost 30 pounds to play left tackle.
"So coach Spurrier called me up and said, `You're not going to play offensive tackle.' So then I put all my weight back on."
Time will tell if Clifton's decision to come out early and to switch positions will pay off in the big league.