With the 48th pick in the 2013 NFL draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers selected former Michigan State running back Le’Veon Bell.
Bell was the second running back taken in the 2013 NFL draft, and the third player selected from the Big Ten. The Columbus, Ohio, native becomes the third Spartan running back to be drafted in Mark Dantonio’s first six seasons as head coach, joining Javon Ringer and Edwin Baker.
“I was so excited to hear Mike Tomlin on the line,” Bell said. “It’s a dream come true to be selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Coach Tomlin said the organization loved the way I ran. He was surprised that I was still available and said the Steelers couldn’t pass me up. It’s the best phone call I’ve ever received.
“Coach Tomlin and I first met at the NFL Combine. It was there that I first learned how much the team liked my running style and pass-catching ability out of the backfield. I had another opportunity to visit with him around our Pro Day, but you never know about the draft process. I’m just glad that it turned out the way that it did. I’m beyond happy.”
After racking up 3, 346 yards and 33 touchdowns in his three seasons at MSU, Bell’s 6-foot-2 237 pound frame, which harnesses both a powerful and elusive running style , will give Pittsburgh fans that hard-nose, between-the-tackles runner that they’ve been looking for since Jerome Bettis.
“Le’Veon Bell is a complete football player,” said MSU head coach Mark Dantonio. “He led the Big Ten and finished third in the nation with nearly 1,800 rushing yards. With more than 380 carries, Le’Veon proved his physical durability. He is a proven commodity as a pass receiver out of the backfield, a solid pass-blocker and someone who can contribute on special teams. With his versatility, Le’Veon can have an impact in a lot of different ways.”
With former Illinois running back Rashard Mendenhall leaving the Steelers for the Cardinals via free agency, the Pittsburgh tailback situation favors Bell immensely. While Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman are good backs in their own right, I wouldn’t be surprised if the former first team All-Big Ten selection ends up being the starter when week 1 rolls around.