One of Avril's biggest accomplishments is becoming a college graduate

Posted Nov 30, 2011

Eighteen years from now when Cliff Avril’s son Xavier is thinking about college, Avril wanted to be able to sit his son down and tell him how important it is to get his degree. That it’s one of the most important things he can do in life.

That's why Avril, a starter at defensive end for the Lions, spent this last year completing his degree in Business Management from Purdue.

Avril is set to graduate in December.

“Honestly, the biggest motivation was my son,” he said. “I thought it’d be harder to tell him to get his degree if I never got mine after going to school for three and a half years.  That was my main motivation, so I can throw that in his face.”

Xavier was born in August.

Avril left Purdue midway through his senior season in 2008 to enter the NFL draft. The Lions selected him in the third round (92nd overall).

In four season’s, Avril has become one of the bright young defensive ends in the game. He’s recorded 26 sacks in 39 starts and leads with seven sacks through 11 games this season.

But as good as those on-field accomplishments have been, Avril is most proud of the fact that he can call himself a college graduate.

“Honestly, it’s the biggest accomplishment and the biggest thing I’ve done besides having my son,” he said. “It’s one of the biggest accomplishments to have.”

Avril needed to finish 12 credit hours and complete an internship to graduate. His schedule being what it is, the internship was going to be the tricky part.

That’s where this off season’s NFL lockout came into play.

Avril was able to complete his two-month internship at a “4Men” clothing store in Metro Detroit with the extra time off.

He completed the 12 credit hours through online courses.

“I won’t be going to the ceremony (in December) because I’m in season,” Avril said. “But I may try and push it back to May. But doing that might cost me a lot because my mom and all those guys will want to come.  It’s a big deal to my family.”