Big Ten Week continues with a look at one of the biggest running backs available in the 2013 NFL Draft.
If you want durability, then Le'Veon Bell is your guy. If you want size out of your running back, he's got that, too.
At 6-foot-1, 230 pounds Bell proved to be a workhorse for the Michigan State Spartans the past three seasons. And with 382 rushing attempts in 2012, Bell carried the ball more than any other player in the FBS.
But long before he was a big-bodied tailback, Bell predicted his journey to the NFL.
"It's something I've always dreamed about since I was little," Bell said. "It's crazy. My aunt has this video when I was 6 years old – with no teeth or nothing. And I tell my mom and my aunt that I'm going to the NFL. It was crazy that she's still got that video, and once I saw it I was like, you know that's crazy. … I didn't know what position but I just said I was going to be there. I just loved football and I knew that's where I wanted to go."
In all, Bell finished with 1,782 yards and 12 touchdowns, with his 137.92 yards per game ranking third among running backs nationwide. After proving himself in the Big Ten and coming within one semester of earning his college degree, Bell made the decision to leave early to support his mother and family.
From his gaudy rushing totals, it's clear to see that Bell doesn't envision himself solely as a short-yardage back at the next level. The 4.6-second, 40-yard dash he ran at the NFL Scouting Combine in February also gives an idea of Bell's athleticism.
"I feel like I can always be in the game, whether it's 1st-and-10, or 3rd-and-10, or 3rd-and-1 – regardless
of the situation," Bell said. "My overall skills that I can bring to the game are good for teams. I can even play special teams. So it's something I always look at and try to get better at."
He also sees the advantages to his big frame and how it can translate to the NFL.
"Yeah, it's definitely an advantage – you know, falling forward and getting tough yardage," Bell said. "I take pride in that. At Michigan State this past year I had a lot of yards after contact, and that's something I take pride in. That's something I want to continue to do."
While many have been quick to lump Bell together with other big backs like Brandon Jacobs and LeGarrette Blount, he's made sure to point out he's got a style all his own.
"I don't think I really model my game after anybody," Bell said. "I take little bits and pieces from a lot of people's games and put it all into one. I'm a big guy, I'm a shifty, I make guys miss in the open field, but I can get tough yardage, banging inside. So I think I've got my own kind of style."
Despite all of his collegiate success, Bell still isn't usually mentioned among the top tier of running backs entering the 2013 NFL Draft. According to CBS Sports, Bell is the ninth-ranking running back and is expected to be drafted in the fourth round.
This isn't the first time Bell has had to deal with the doubters. If anything, he'll use it as motivation heading into the next chapter of his football life.
"It always fuels me," Bell said. "Even out of high school when people said I couldn't play at Michigan State. That always fueled me and drove me and made me that much better. Now that it's happening again, I'll just keep that edge on me, and keep having that grind. That's what I'm going to do – go out and prove people wrong."