The Pittsburgh Steelers have selected Michigan State running back Le\’Veon Bell with their second round pick of the 2013 NFL draft.
Todd Haley press conference audio:
Michigan State University Spartans
Groveport Madison High School
One look at Bell’s frame, power and inside rushing ability, and you can see why Spartans fans and National Football League scouts have likened the junior to a former Michigan State All-American ball carrier, T.J. Duckett, who also tipped the scales at close to the 250-pound level, yet showed great ball carrying skills.
The university has had decent success in producing “blue collar” type running backs in recent years, as Duckett would hear his name called in the first round of the 2002 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons. It was not until the 2009 draft that another MSU running back would enter the pro ranks, when All-American Javon Ringer was taken in the fifth round by the Tennessee Titans.
The player that Bell replaced in the starting lineup last season, Edwin Baker, enjoyed an All-Big Ten Conference campaign in 2011 before being selected in the 2012 draft by San Diego in the seventh round. With his big, solid frame, it is very hard for initial tacklers to bring Bell down in isolated coverage. He is an all-out battler taking on defenders when running between tackles, as he has a nice array of moves, along with the lateral agility to spin away from traffic and turn the corner.
Bell showed marked improvement in recognizing the cutback lanes and does a nice job of executing precise jump cuts, combining a low pad level and a strong lower body frame to easily drive through arm tackles. He is a very physical ball carrier, especially after contact, as he consistently leans forward, stays low in his pads and uncoils with force to rock his opponents back on their heels when fighting for extra yardage.
With his wide frame and broad shoulders, Bell is a load to bring down in the open field. Once he gets past the second level, he has that extra gear needed to pull away from the crowd, and while he lacks breakaway speed, his 25 touchdown runs during his last two seasons are further evidence that he can “take the ball to the house” on a regular basis. He is very effective at keeping his knees up and sidestepping trash, but when defenders converge on him, he can break free by delivering a bone-jarring stiff-arm.
Prior to arriving at Michigan State, Bell lettered three times on the gridiron at Madison High School, where the Groveport, Ohio product also excelled in basketball and track-&-field. A teammate of former Michigan State and New York Jets safety, Eric Smith, Bell first earned postseason honors as a sophomore, as the All-Ohio Capital Conference second-team choice scored nine touchdowns with 789 yards on the ground. The following season, he amassed 1,100 rushing yards with thirteen scores, again receiving All-OCC recognition.
Bell’s senior campaign was his finest, as he accounted for 1,750 all-purpose yards en route to finding the end zone 25 times. The Super Prep and Prep Star All-Midwest pick and first-team All-OCC choice rushed 200 times for 1,333 yards (6.7 ypc) and 21 touchdowns that year. His best performances in 2009 saw Bell carry 30 times for a career-best 336 yards and four scores vs. Dublin Jerome and he also gained 228 yards on 26 attempts and scored four more times vs. Marysville.
Bell enrolled at Michigan State and would spend his next two seasons playing behind Edwin Baker at tailback. He received midseason Doak Walker Award (nation’s top running back) consideration and was named to the Big Ten Conference All-Freshman squad in 2010. Despite not starting any of the thirteen games he played in, he was the team’s second-leading rusher with 605 yards and eight touchdowns on 107 carries (5.65 ypc). He added 97 yards on eleven receptions, 142 yards on six kickoff returns and 844 all-purpose yards for the Spartans.
Bell received the team’s Most Outstanding Underclass Back Award and was named to the College Football News’ Sophomore All-American team in 2011. He began the season behind Edwin Baker before taking over starting chores for the final six contests. He led the Spartans with 948 yards on 182 attempts (5.21 ypc), as his thirteen rushing touchdowns rank eleventh on the school season-record chart. He was third on the unit with 35 catches for 267 yards and returned a kick 31 yards to generate 1,246 all-purpose yards.
Bell’s 2012 campaign was one of the finest in team history. Named the Spartans’ MVP, he added All-Big Ten Conference first-team and All-American honorable mention accolades, as he produced the second-best rushing season at MSU, gaining 1,793 yards, leading the league and ranking third nationally with an average of 137.92 yards per game on the ground.
The winner of the College Football Performance Awards’ Elite Running Back Trophy, Bell also ran for twelve scores on 382 carries (fourth-highest on the Big Ten season-record list), caught 32 balls for 167 yards and had 2,024 all-purpose yards, the fourth-best mark in a season by a Spartan, as his average of 155.69 yards per game was second-best in the Big Ten and ranked 14th in the nation.
Bell was presented the trophy as the 2012 Elite Running Back of the Year by the College Football Performance Awards at halftime of a Spartans\’ basketball game in December. Chants of “one more year” rained down as Bell stood at midcourt. “It\’s so emotional,” Bell said of the moment. “It\’s crazy how Spartan Nation really likes Le\’Veon Bell. Being here these last couple years meant everything to me. It was a great moment out there and I just wanted to do it for the fans. Of course I couldn\’t win anything without my teammates. My teammates helped me get to this point. The coaches of course put me in the right situation. It\’s a total team effort.”
“There\’s no question that Le\’Veon Bell had a special season, as he rushed for nearly 1,800 yards while leading the Big Ten and finishing third in the nation in rushing,” Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio said. “While his rushing total is notable, it was his physical durability that was most impressive, as he carried the ball over 380 times. Not only did he carry the load, he got stronger as the season progressed and consistently produced big numbers. This is a well deserved honor for a complete back. His pass-catching ability and pass protection can\’t be overlooked.”
Within 36 hours after Michigan State defeated Texas Christian, 17-16 in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, a game where Bell rushed 32 times for 145 yards and a touchdown, the MSU tailback, tight end Dion Sims and defensive end William Gholston all announced that they would forgo their senior seasons and enter the 2013 National Football League Draft.
Bell and Sims made their decisions public on Thursday, January 3rd, while Gholston followed suit the next day. It marked the first time Michigan State has had multiple underclassmen enter the NFL Draft since 1999 (defensive end Dimitrius Underwood and running back Sedrick Irvin). The Spartans had a disappointing season, especially on offense (ranked 108th among 120 major colleges in total offense), but the one aspect of the attack that did shine was Le\’Veon Bell.
“As hard as it was to leave Spartan Nation, it was even harder to pass on such a great opportunity I have in front of me!” Bell said. “But I love and thank Spartan Nation for everything! I will always be a Spartan!”
Once an unheralded recruit, Bell emerged into a star for the Spartans as a junior. He closes out his career ranked eighth among active NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision players with 671 rushing attempts, sixth-best in school history. He finished seventh in MSU annals and ninth among active players with 3,346 rushing yards. His 33 touchdown runs are also sixth-best on the school career chart (16th among active FBS performers) while ranking ninth in MSU history with 4,114 all-purpose yards.
Bell appeared in 40 games for Michigan State, starting his final nineteen contests…
Carried 671 times for 3,346 yards (4.99 ypc) and 33 touchdowns for the Spartans, as he also caught 78 passes for 531 yards (6.81 ypc) and a score…Added 219 yards on eleven kickoff returns (19.91 avg), 18 yards on three punt returns and completed his only pass attempt for 29 yards…Recorded one solo tackle and scored 204 points behind a total of 34 touchdowns…Touched the ball 763 times for 4,114 all-purpose yards, the ninth-best total in school history, as he averaged 102.85 yards per game…His rushing attempts rank sixth in school history behind Lorenzo White (1,082; 1984-87), Javon Ringer (843; 2005-08), Tico Duckett (836; 1989-92), Blake Ezor (800; 1986-89) and Sedrick Irvin (755; 1996-98)…His 3,346 rushing yards are surpassed by just Lorenzo White (4,887), Ringer (4,398), Tico Duckett (4,212), Ezor (3,749), Irvin (3,504) and T.J. Duckett (3,379; 1999-2001) for seventh in school annals…Bell’s 33 rushing touchdowns placed sixth on the MSU all-time record chart, topped by White (43), Jehuu Caulcrick (39; 2004-07), Irvin (35), Ringer (34) and Ezor (34)…His 34 total touchdowns tied Blake Ezor for fifth in school annals…In nineteen games as a starter, Bell carried 477 times for 2,309 yards (4.84 ypc) and nineteen touch-downs, an average of 121.53 yards per game…In three bowl games, Bell gained 206 yards on 53 carries (3.89 ypc/68.67 ypg)…Michigan State went 18-3 (.857) when Bell scored at least one rushing TD (2010: 5-0; 2011: 7-1; and 2012: 6-2).
Bell was named to the All-American Super Sleeper Team by The NFL Draft Report, a squad consisting of the most underrated player in college football at each position…Added All-American honorable mention from Sports Illustrated and received fourth-team accolades from Phil Steele…The consensus All-Big Ten Conference first-team choice and Doak Walker Award semi-finalist was the recipient of the College Football Performance Awards Elite Running Back Trophy; winners of the award are selected exclusively based upon objective scientific rankings of the extent to which individual players increase the overall effectiveness of their teams…Was voted Most Valuable Player (Governor\’s Award) by his teammates…Won the Big Ten overall rushing title, averaging 137.92 yards per game, which also ranked third in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision…Became the first Spartan to win the Big Ten overall rushing title since Tico Duckett in 1990…Totaled 1,793 rushing yards, the second-highest single-season mark in MSU history and the fifth most in the nation in 2012. The only Spartan to rush for more yards in a campaign was Lorenzo White (2,066 in 1985)…Ranked first in the FBS in carries (382), which also ranks third most in a MSU season and fourth in the Big Ten record book. Spartans carrying the ball more in a season were Lorenzo White (419 in 1985) and Javon Ringer (390 in 2008), as that duo was joined by Darnell Autry of Northwestern (387 in 1995) as the Big Ten rushers with more attempts than Bell’s…Ran for twelve touchdowns and scored 78 points…Caught 32 balls for 167 yards (5.22 ypc) and a touchdown, adding 46 yards on four kickoff returns, 18 yards on three punt returns and also completed a pass attempt for 29 yards (vs. Texas Christian)…Finished second in the conference and 14th in the nation with an average of 155.69 all-purpose yards per game, as his total of 2,024 yards rank fourth on the school season-record chart, surpassed by Devin Thomas (2,590 in 2007), Lorenzo White (2,094 in 1985) and Javon Ringer (2,051 in 2008)…Just the 13th player in school history to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season, Bell gained 922 of his 1,793 rushing yards (51.42%) after contact, which ranked first among all NCAA FBS running backs, and broke sixteen tackles…Recorded eight 100-yard rushing games, second most by a Spartan in a season (Lorenzo White holds the school record; eleven times in 1985)…Bell was one of just four players in the FBS in 2012 to record three 200-yard rushing games (Toledo\’s David Fluellen, Air Force\’s Cody Getz, Western Kentucky\’s Antonio Andrews), as he also became just the second Spartan to record three 200-yard rushing games in a season (Lorenzo White: school-record four times in 1985)…During the 2012 regular-season, Bell was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week three times – vs. Boise State; Eastern Michigan; Minnesota…The Columbus, Ohio, native produced the top single-game total in the NCAA FBS this season for carries (44 vs. Boise State) and eighth-most rushing yards (266 vs. Minnesota)…Ran 32 times for 133 yards vs. Northwestern…Gained 188 yards on 36 carries and scored two touchdowns vs. Nebraska…With 77 yards on 21 carries in MSU\’s 16-13 overtime victory at Wisconsin, he eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing milestone for the first time in his career. Bell became the 13th running back (21 times combined) in Spartan history to record a 1,000-yard rushing season. His first career touchdown reception came on a 5-yard shovel pass from Andrew Maxwell with 1:08 left in the fourth quarter and sent the game into overtime tied at 10…Rushed 29 times for 140 yards and a score vs. Iowa, as it marked his second-straight 100-yard rushing game vs. the Hawkeyes (20 rushes for 112 yards in 2011)…Ran for a game-high 121 rushing yards on 37 attempts in MSU\’s 31-27 win at Indiana. The 37 carries were the second most in his career (44 vs. Boise State)…Set career highs for receptions (8) and receiving yards (58) in a 17-16 loss to Ohio State…He earned Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week honors after rushing for 253 yards on 36 tries with a score vs. Eastern Michigan. His 253 yards mark the seventh-highest single-game rushing total in school history…Scored on first-half runs of one and seven yards, as MSU rolled to a 24-0 halftime lead en route to a 41-7 win at Central Michigan…Named CBS Sports Heisman Player of the Week and Big Ten Co-Offensive Player of the Week after rushing for 210 yards on a career-best 44 carries vs. 24 Boise State. Bell outgained the entire Boise State offense, 210-206, and 84 of his 210 yards came after contact. His 210 rushing yards also were the most by a Big Ten running back in a season opener since Purdue\’s Ralph Bolden in 2009 (234 vs. Toledo) and the most by a Spartan in an opener since T.J. Duckett in 2000 (219 vs. Marshall). He also had six catches for 55 yards vs. the Broncos…Rushed 35 times for a career-high 266 yards – the most by a Big Ten player this season – and a touchdown vs. Minnesota, as the Spartans became bowl eligible for a school record sixth-straight season. Bell was named CFPA National Running Back of the Week and Big Ten Co-Offensive Player of the Week for his career day vs. the Gophers. His 266 rushing yards are the sixth-highest single-game total in MSU history. He carried the ball eight consecutive plays (for 51 yards) and capped off an 11-play, 57-yard drive with an 8-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter that iced the game for the Spartans. He also ripped off runs of 26, 40 and 30 yards vs. the Gophers while accounting for a career-best 275 all-purpose yards – the ninth-best single-game total in MSU history…
Selected Offensive Player of the Game after accounting for 187 combined yards (rushing, passing and receiving) in the Spartans\’ 17-16 come-from-behind win over Texas Christian in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. He carried 32 times for 145 yards vs. the Horned Frogs, with 107 of those rushing yards coming in the second half including a 4-yard touchdown run that gave MSU its first lead at 14-13 with 7:00 left in the fourth quarter. His 32 rushing attempts and 145 rushing yards mark the fifth-highest single-game bowl totals in Spartan history. He became the first Spartan back to post a 100-yard rushing game in a bowl since Javon Ringer carried 21 times for 101 yards vs. Boston College in the 2007 Champs Sports Bowl. Bell also completed a 29-yard pass to TyQuan Hammock to set up MSU\’s first touchdown and caught two passes for 13 yards.
Bell was named All-Big Ten Conference honorable mention by the league’s coaches and media…College Football News selected him to their Sophomore All-American Team (honorable mention) and he was the recipient of his team\’s Most Outstanding Underclass Back Award for offense…Led the Spartans and ranked eighth in the Big Ten in rushing with 948 yards on 182 carries (5.21 ypc), as he started the last six games at tailback…Also led team and ranked fifth in the Big Ten in rushing touchdowns with thirteen, which rank eleventh on the school season-record chart…Had a team-best ten rushes of 20-plus yards, as he ranked second on the squad in all-purpose yards with 1,246 (948 rushing, 267 receiving, 31 kick return)…Finished third on the team with 35 receptions for 267 yards (7.63 ypc)…Once he joined the starting lineup, Bell carried 95 times for 516 yards (5.43 ypc) and seven touchdowns, an average of 86.00 yards per game…Rushed for 48 yards on 17 carries, including touchdown runs of 8 yards and one yard, in the triple-overtime win over Georgia in the 2012 Outback Bowl, as he also had five receptions for 39 yards. His 1-yard touchdown vs. the Bulldogs with 14 seconds left in the fourth quarter tied the score at 27 and sent the game into overtime…Recorded his second 100-yard rushing game of the season in the Big Ten Championship Game vs. Wisconsin, collecting 106 yards on 18 carries, including a 6-yard score…Ran for 86 yards, including a 7-yard touchdown, on 16 carries at Northwestern…Was named Spartan Offensive Player of the Week after rushing for 112 yards on 20 carries, including a 25-yard score vs. Iowa, as he also had two catches for 49 yards…Again selected Spartan Co-Offensive Player of the Week after accounting for a season-high 165 all-purpose yards vs. Minnesota, with 1- and 35-yard scoring runs, as he had 15 carries for 96 yards and five receptions for 38 yards vs. the Gophers…Posted 114 all-purpose yards vs. Wisconsin, 87 yards on 16 attempts and four catches for 27 yards…Earned Spartan Offensive Player of the Week honors after tying his career high with three rushing touchdowns while leading MSU with 81 yards on eight attempts vs. Central Michigan.
Bell earned Big Ten Conference All-Freshman honors from ESPN.com and Rivals.com, and was a midseason addition to the Doak Walker Award Watch List…Appeared in all thirteen games as a true freshman ranked second on the team in carries (107), rushing yards (605) and rushing touchdowns (8), as he averaged 5.65 yards per carry…28 of his attempts resulted in either a first down or a score, including three gains of 20 or more yards…Added eleven catches for 97 yards (8.82 ypc) and six kickoff returns for 142 yards (23.67 avg) while generating 844 all-purpose yards, an average of 64.92 yards per game.
2012 Season…Outside of being slowed by an ankle sprain during 2012 spring drills, Bell has never missed any games due to injury.
4.62 in the 40-yard dash…1.58 10-yard dash…2.61 20-yard dash…4.39 20-yard shuttle…
7.06 three-cone drill…32 ½-inch vertical jump…9’3” broad jump…Bench pressed 225 pounds 24 times…30-inch arm length…9 3/8-inch hands…74 ¼-inch wingspan.
Bell attended Madison (Groveport, Oh.) High School, where the lettered three times in football for head coach Tim Brown, and also excelled in basketball and track-&-field…A teammate of former Michigan State and New York Jets safety, Eric Smith, Bell first earned postseason honors as a sophomore, as the All-Ohio Capital Conference second-team choice scored nine touchdowns with 789 yards on the ground…The following season, he amassed 1,100 rushing yards with thirteen scores, again receiving All-OCC recognition…
Bell’s senior campaign was his finest, as he accounted for 1,750 all-purpose yards en route to finding the end zone 25 times…The Super Prep and Prep Star All-Midwest pick and first-team All-OCC pick rushed 200 times for 1,333 yards (6.7 ypc) and 21 touchdowns that year…His best performances in 2009 saw Bell carry 30 times for a career-best 336 yards and four scores vs. Dublin Jerome and he also gained 228 yards on 26 attempts and scored four more times vs. Marysville.
Sociology major…Son of Lisa A. Bell…Born 2/18/92 in Reynoldsburg, Ohio…Resides in Columbus, Ohio.