Days after it surfaced that Michigan State junior running back Le’Veon Bell was talking with agents, it appears he’s made the decision to turn pro.
Bell confirmed the decision on his Twitter account.
“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!” he wrote.
ESPN college football reporter Joe Schad reported this morning that Bell will skip his senior season to enter the NFL Draft.
Bell was the workhorse for the Spartans this season, carrying the ball 382 times for 1,793 yards and 12 touchdowns. His 1,793 yards were the second most in a single-season in school history, trailing Lorenzo White’s total of 2,066 in 1985. His rushing attempts were the third most in a season in school history.
The 6-foot-2, 237-pound Bell, who was named the national running back of the year by the College Football Performance Awards, is rated the No. 2 back in the draft by ESPN Scouts Inc.
“I love his versatility, and I think that’s where he’s going to be an intriguing player. I hope he gets with a team that is willing to think creatively with him,” ESPN’s Todd McShay said.
“… He has unique traits in that there are very few guys that are 6’2″ and 250 pounds that run routes, understand the passing game, and catch the ball the way he does. So I’m really going to be interested to see where that value is. He doesn’t have great speed, and you see it. When he goes to accelerate up the field, it’s not fast enough. So I don’t know that he’ll be a full-time, great starting running back in the NFL, but I think he contributes and I think there is a lot of value there as well.”
Here is an excerpt from Solari’s story in November about Bell and the NFL draft.
Once a forgotten recruit, Bell has turned heads this season with 1,249 yards and 10 touchdowns through 10 games.
“If the opportunity presents itself, I might take a look into it. But right now, I’m not paying too much attention to it,” the Groveport, Ohio, native said. “As soon as (TV analysts) start talking about NFL and draft, then I’m not really paying attention to it. I’m not buying into it – not yet, not right now anyway. At the end of the season, I might take a look at it, but not right now.”
Scouts are looking at Bell, though. They see a big-bodied running back in the Eric Dickerson-mold who can take the punishment of opposing defenders. But they also notice he lacks breakaway speed while carrying a heavy load for MSU’s offense, already up to 283 carries on the season.
Running backs generally have the shortest lifespan among NFL careers, which could influence Bell’s decision. (ESPN’s Mel) Kiper thinks he would be a second- or third-round pick right now, though ESPN ranks Bell as the second-best running draft in the class should he enter.
“He’s an all-around complete player for the most part,” Kiper said.
His ESPN partner (Todd) McShay labeled Bell as an “intriguing player” because of his potential for versatility in the running and passing games, though he remains unsure if he’ll become “a full-time, great starting running back in the NFL.”
“I hope he gets with a team that is willing to think creatively with him,” McShay said. “Flex him out, move him around almost as a unique hybrid, if you will. A guy that can be your back and pound it inside but you move him in the slot or motion him out and allow him to get involved as a pass catcher.”
Two, potentially three games remain in MSU’s season, which likely means none of the three will make their determination until at least January. Bell said there is a sense of pride when he does hear his name mentioned in draft talks.
“It lets me know that all the hard work and dedication I’ve had up until this point has paid off,” he said. “If the opportunity’s going to be there, it would be a great accomplishment for me to actually enter and get drafted. But I’m not really paying attention to it, and I’m not buying into it.”