Justin Bethel (Blythewood, S.C.) was selected by the Arizona Cardinals in the sixth round of the National Football League's 2012 draft. He was the 177th overall pick and the first for the Blue Hose since 1969.
Bethel is just the ninth player from PC to be drafted by the NFL and the first since Dan Eckstein, who was selected by the Green Bay Packers in the 15th round in 1969. Bethel's sixth round selection is the highest, eclipsing Bob Waters who was chosen by the San Francisco 49ers in the seventh round in 1960.
Bethel becomes the sixth player from the Big South Conference to be selected to the draft. He joins Coastal Carolina's Tyler Thigpen who went in the seventh round in 2007 to the Minnesota Vikings, and Jerome Simpson, who was selected in the second round in 2008 by the Cincinnati Bengals. Chanticleer Josh Norman was also chosen in this year's draft, going to the Carolina Panthers in the fifth round (143rd overall).
Gardner Webb's Brian Johnston was selected in the seventh round in 2008 by the Kansas City Chiefs, while Liberty's Rashad Jennings was drafted in 2009 in the seventh round by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Bethel ended his career at PC with several accolades and records. He earned the third All-Conference nod of his career and his and PC's first Defensive Player-of-the-Year award for his performance on the field as a senior. He became the all-time leader in the Big South in blocked kicks this season as well as the all-time leader in career solo blocks.
Bethel was fourth in the league in tackles, third in passes defended and second in interceptions. He recorded double-digit tackles in four games, including a career-high 15 at Furman this season.
Bethel leaves PC as the career leader in tackles, as well as interceptions. Bethel led the team in tackles this past season with 87, 3.5 of which were for a loss. He had a sack to his credit and recorded four interceptions, one of which he ran back for a touchdown against PAC-12 member California, where he also had a blocked punt which he ran back for a score for the team's only points of the game.
The two-time Big South Special Teams and Defensive Player of the Week was a Buck Buchanan Award finalist and a FCS College Football Performance Award DB, National DB and National Defensive Performance Award winner. He was also named to the Associated Press FCS All-American Second-Team, as well as the Sports Journal All-America Team.
A participant in the 87th annual East-West Shrine game this past January, Bethel was named to the Phil Steele FCS All-America Team, as well as the Sports Network/Fathead.com FCS All-America Team. He was a first-team and second-team selection, respectively. He also earned the College Football Performance FCS Elite Punt Returner Award.
Bethel made a name for himself at the 2012 NFL Combine, where he earned top performer accolades in the vertical jump and broad jump.
Bethel will graduate in May from Presbyterian College with a degree in Business Administration.
Presbyterian College Players Drafted by the NFL
Year Rd. Pick Overall Name Team Pos.
2012 6 7 177 Justin Bethel Cardinals CB
1969 15 12 376 Dan Eckstein Packers DB
1962 18 14 252 Bob Joiner Packers QB
1961 19 1 253 Bill Hill Vikings RB
1960 7 11 83 Bobby Waters 49ers QB
1960 19 11 227 Bobby Pate 49ers B
1958 14 12 169 Ken Webb Lions B
1944 19 1 187 Jack Adams Cardinals E
1944 22 4 223 Hank Caver Steelers B