Miami Dolphins cornerback and 2012 Presbyterian College graduate Justin Bethel has been selected to the Big South Conference Hall of Fame Class of 2024, the league announced earlier this week.
A three-time All-Big South honoree and member of the Big South's 2010-19 Football All-Decade Team, Bethel is the first-ever Blue Hose athlete in any sport to be enshrined in the league's Hall of Fame and just the third football player among all member schools to receive the recognition.
"I'm sure I'm not the only person from the Big South who has been in the league or had a good career, so I'm feeling blessed for this honor," Bethel said.
In 2011, a breakout senior season for the Sumter, South Carolina native, Bethel was named the Big South Defensive Player of the Year and a finalist for the Buck Buchanan National Defensive Player of the Year award. He also received All-America recognition from the Associated Press, College Sporting News, College Sports Journal, Phil Steele Magazine, and The Sports Network.
Bethel finished his collegiate career as the conference's all-time leader in solo tackles (199) and still holds the league record for career blocked kicks (9) and blocked punts returned for touchdowns (2).
"Being at Presbyterian taught me to keep working hard and to push yourself," he said. "Enjoy pushing your limits and embrace the challenges that come your way."
After graduating with a degree in business administration, Bethel was selected in the sixth round (177th) of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals, becoming the first Presbyterian player taken in the NFL Draft since 1969.
He spent his first six seasons in Arizona before making stops in Atlanta, Baltimore, and New England.
Bethel joined the Dolphins for the 2022 season and tallied 16 tackles (11 solo), one interception, and four passes defended. He also had 10 special teams tackles (six solo).
The two-time first-team All-Pro and three-time Pro Bowl cornerback and special teams asset is back for a second season in Miami after the team announced his re-signing on March 24.
A model of consistency, Bethel has missed just two games and has played in a remarkable 182 of his team's 184 games during his NFL career. He's also been a member of five double-digit win teams in his 11 NFL seasons.
Even with his lengthy career, Bethel has not lost sight of the people that helped him grow as a player and person.
He recently returned to his former high school in Blythewood, SC. to host a youth football camp and 7-on-7 tournament. The events were put on through Bethel's Beating All Odds Foundation, which aims to assist in the building and stabilizing of people and organizations with finances to be a positive influence in the community.
"Since I've been in a position to do what I do and make the money I've made, being able to give back to the people who gave to me and got me to where I am now, I think it's only right for me to do so," Bethel said in a recent interview with WLTX News19.
Bethel will be officially inducted on Thursday, May 30, 2024, during a special ceremony as part of the Big South's annual spring meetings at the Wild Dunes Resort in Isle of Palms, S.C.