EAST LANSING — Michigan State is losing its workhorse.
Junior running back Le'Veon Bell, who accounted for nearly 2,000 yards in offense this past season, announced Thursday that he's leaving school early to declare for April's National Football League draft.
Bell rushed for 1,793 yards, and caught 32 passes for an additional 167 yards, for the 7-6 Spartans. He rushed for 145 yards in last Saturday's 17-16 comeback win over Texas Christian in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.
"This was the hardest decision of my life," he said in a statement released by the Michigan State athletic department. "It's difficult to leave my teammates and coaches as well as Spartan Nation, but I couldn't pass on pursuing my dream and the opportunity to change my mom's life."
Opinions vary on how high Bell will go in the draft. ESPN's Scouts Inc. has the 6-foot-2, 237-pound Bell pegged as the second best back in the draft right now. CBS Sports ranks him as the eighth best back, but still a third round pick.
Bell's teammate, junior tight end Dion Sims, also indicated Thursday that he'll forego his final year of eligibility, too. Sims is ranked the fourth best tight end available by Scouts Inc..
"After talking things over with my family and some of my teammates, I decided the timing was right to make the move because I believe that I'm ready to play at the next level," the 6-5, 285-pound Sims said.
Many expect junior defensive end William Gholston to follow. His mother told the Detroit Free Press that he'll be making a decision in the next couple of days.
Bell, meanwhile, finished his career as Michigan State's seventh all-time rusher, gaining 3,346 yards. He caught 78 passes for 531 yards in his career.
"Le'Veon Bell established himself as a running back who could carry the load, as he carried the ball over 380 times this season for us," Spartans coach Mark Dantonio said. "Although he was the Big Ten's leading rusher following the regular season, it was his physical durability that was most impressive.
"As a 20-year-old, Le'Veon faced an extremely difficult decision. While I do believe there was both personal and program value in Le'Veon returning for his senior season, I acknowledge the difficult choice he had to make."
Bell certainly ended his career on a high note in the bowl victory over TCU.
"I couldn't have written a better script for my final game in a Spartan uniform, coming back from a 13-0 deficit against TCU to win in the final minute," he said. "I ran the ball well against a great TCU defense, but the most important thing was getting the 'W.' It was exciting to celebrate with my teammates one last time and leave on that note."
Michigan State returns three backs with limited experience — Nick Hill, Jeremy Langford and redshirt freshman Nick Tompkins. The Spartans have recruited two runnings backs as part of their 2013 class — Flint's Gerald Holmes and Wisconsin's R.J. Shelton. Another incoming recruit, Pennsylvania's Delton Williams, could be in the mix as well.
Gholston could also follow to upcoming draft
EAST LANSING — Michigan State is losing its workhorse.
Frontier League standings: 06/18/2013
Frontier League baseball standings and schedule:Continued ...
Today in Sports: 06/18/2013
What's happening in sports across the region and the country:Continued ...
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Cherry-Roubaix category winners
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Wolves fall to Detroit
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- Sunday, June 16, 2013
Depasse, Leib take top spots at Cherry-Roubaix
A pair of first-timer finishers earned first place in the men's and women's Cherry-Roubaix criterium pro races Saturday.Continued ...
TC West surges into 5th at golf finals
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State golf finals results
How area teams finished in the state golf championships this weekend:Continued ...
Beach Bums slam Slammers, 6-2
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Sports in Brief: 06/16/2013
Public input for Buffalo Ridge Trail; PaddleboardClassic is July 20; Rays pitcher Cobb leaves on stretcher. (Plus more)Continued ...
- Saturday, June 15, 2013
Glen Lake plays with fire; Beal City takes win
For four innings, Glen Lake played with fire. Then, the roof caved in, and it spelled the end of the Lakers’ best baseball season in more than a decade.Continued ...
Rain adds twist to state golf finals
A large rainstorm Wednesday made play at the Division 1 and 4 state golf finals a little extra interesting.Continued ...
Bums slam Joliet, 12-2
The Traverse City starting pitcher hit two career milestones Friday, notching his 200th strikeout and 20th victory in a Beach Bums uniform in a 12-2 win over Joliet to start a short weekend home stand.Continued ...
State golf finals standings: 1st Round
Area team places after the first round of the state finals:Continued ...
Sports in Brief: 06/15/2013
MSU golf coach to hold clinic; Dell’Acqua elected pres. of TB Blues; 131s win two at USSSA tournament. (Plus more)Continued ...
Frontier League Standings: 06/15/2013
Standings, scores and schedule for Frontier League baseball:Continued ...
- Friday, June 14, 2013
FINAL: Beal City 15, Glen Lake 0
Beal City cruised to a 15-0 win over Glen Lake in a Division 4 baseball state semifinal in Battle Creek Friday.Continued ...
UPDATE: Beal City 1, Glen Lake 0
In the fourth inning, Glen Lake trails Beal City 1-0 in a Division 4 baseball state semifinal at C.O. Brown Stadium in Battle Creek Friday.Continued ...
Race director Bob McLain said around 600 cyclists participated last year, and they already have that many signed up for this weekend’s event.Continued ...
Glen Lake set for Beal City in semis
Glen Lake baseball coach Kris Herman said you need three things to win a state title: Pitching, good defense and the ability to scrape out runs. A fourth factor doesn’t hurt: Luck.Continued ...
Beach Bums thump Florence on road
The Traverse City Beach Bums unleashed a 15-hit attack Thursday night in thumping the Florence Freedom 8-5 in a Frontier League contest.Continued ...
Bob Gwizdz: Bass galore on St. Clair
Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you know by now that Bassmasters magazine – the bible to America’s largest freshwater fishing fraternity – has named Lake St. Clair as the best bass fishing lake in America.Continued ...
Bandrowski succeeds Murphy at TCSF
Annie Murphy, who led the St. Francis boys tennis team to three consecutive top-six finishes in Division IV, has stepped down.Continued ...
- Frontier League standings: 06/18/2013