Michigan State's Le'Veon Bell: A Star NFL Running Back?
Le'Veon Bell, running back from the Michigan State Spartans, put forth an absolutely amazing junior season this past fall. Bell piled up the yards all season and helped lead the Spartans to an exciting comeback win over TCU in the 2012 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. Though he was among the nation's best running backs, Bell still seems to be underrated.
Earlier this month Bell, tight end Dion Sims and defensive end William Gholston all decided to forgo their senior seasons at Michigan State to enter the 2013 NFL Draft. In his three seasons with the Spartans, Bell collected 3,346 yards and 33 touchdowns on the ground. Despite his strong numbers, Bell is considered to be a fourth round draft pick and the No. 10 running back in this year's class according to CBS Sports.
Bell has many characteristics to be a successful NFL running back. He has size, strength and quickness. Bell has a good motor and is a very physical runner. NFL teams may want to take a good look at this tough running back come draft time, as he has the tools to be a great NFL player.
Carries the Load
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Le'Veon Bell was the every down back for the Michigan State Spartans in 2012. He was the true definition of a workhorse. The Michigan State offense relied heavily on Bell's rushing attack. He carried the ball more than any other running back in the entire country with 382 attempts on the season. In his three year career, he had over 100 rushing attempts each season.
Remarkably in the Spartans opening game of the year, a 17-13 win over Boise State, Bell carried the ball a stunning 44 times for 210 yards and two touchdowns. He had more yards than the entire Boise State team.
The power runner is listed at 6'2" and 244 pounds. He is very good at keeping his feet and gaining yards after contact. Bell had the most yards after contact of all NCAA running backs this past season. His 922 yards after contact accounted for 51 percent of his rushing yards and he also broke 16 tackles in 2012.
Bell has the size and strength to be an every down back in the NFL. He is very capable of carrying the load on offense for any team. Bell is one of the best running backs in this year's draft in gaining yards after contact. His strength and determination cannot be ignored.
Racks Up the Yards
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
This Michigan State product can certainly pile on the rushing yards game in and game out. Le'Veon Bell was fifth in the FBS in rushing yards with 1,793 yards. That mark was the fourth best among running backs and the second most of any Big Ten player, after Wisconsin's Montee Ball. Furthermore, it was the second-highest total in Michigan State history.
In the Michigan State Spartans 17-16 Bowl victory over TCU, Bell ran for 145 yards and a touchdown. That game Bell went over 100 yards rushing for the 12th time in his career and the eighth time in their 13 games in 2012. Even more astonishing is the fact that in three of those games this season, Bell ran for over 200 yards rushing. He was the second player in school history to accomplish the feat three times in a season.
Le'Veon Bell rushed for more than 250 yards in games against Eastern Michigan (253) and Minnesota (266) the last regular season game of the year. He had a historic season carrying the ball for the Spartans this past season. Bell has the talent to put up big numbers every game he plays in, and he will continue to do so at the next level.
Finds the End Zone
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
As Michigan State's primary play-maker, Le'Veon Bell was the center of attention for each opponent they faced. Despite being keyed on by opposing defenses, Bell still managed to produce game after game. He had the most total touchdowns on the team with 12 on the ground and one receiving score. Bell's 12 rushing scores were No. 4 in the Big Ten.
Michigan State had an 18-3 record when Bell scored at least one rushing touchdown throughout his career. Also Bell's 33 career rushing touchdowns left him No. 6 on Michigan State's all-time list. He scored multiple touchdowns in four of their games this season as well.
Bell is a physical back who knows how to get into the end zone. Soon Bell could be pounding in touchdowns for an NFL team.
Comes off of the Bench Effectively
Eric Francis/Getty Images
Le'Veon Bell was only a starter for Michigan State this past season. In his freshman campaign, Bell came off the bench as the backup to Edwin Baker. The two backs again split carries in 2011, with Bell emerging with a stronger season. Bell was just as effective in a two back set as he was being the lone, workhorse back.
In 2010 Bell scored eight touchdowns and rushed for 605 yards on just 107 carries. He continued to improve in 2011 as he rushed for team highs with 948 yards and 13 touchdowns. Despite coming in as Baker's backup, Bell worked his way to more carries and better production between the two by the end of his sophomore season.
Bell is clearly more than capable of being both the main back or the backup for an NFL team. As he works his way into the league, it is likely that Bell will begin coming off the bench. He has shown that whether he is the starter or not, he will produce no matter the circumstance.
Does More Than Just Run the Ball
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
In this day and age, the NFL has become more of a passing league than its traditional roots. Most running backs must be able to not just run the ball effectively, but also make catches out of the backfield and in the slot. Le'Veon Bell is a versatile player and has very capable receiving skills.
In his career at Michigan State, Bell had 78 receptions for 531 yards. This season Bell caught 32 passes for 167 yards including a touchdown reception. The previous season, with Kirk Cousins under center, Bell corralled 35 receptions for 267 yards. In the Spartans 16-17 loss to Ohio State, Bell caught eight passes for 58 yards.
Bell also notably completed the only pass of his career this past season. He threw a 29 yard pass to TyQuan Hammock to set up the Spartans' first touchdown in their win over TCU in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. Bell also returned four punts and 11 kickoffs in his three year career.
Le'Veon Bell can do many things for a football team. He is a versatile running back who can use either his power or quickness to break tackles. He also can make plays in the passing game and the return game. Bell has true talent as one of the top backs in the 2013 draft class.
Le'Veon Bell has the assets to become a star in the NFL.