Tardy Bell — Now with medical clearance, Starting Tailback Kahlil Bell’s return is finally in full-swing, but a hunch says Bell will need to ring up a hellacious effort in practice to silence others trying to crack the Starting line-up
It’s a Bell Curve —
Lots of talented Tailbacks will be trying to climb that curve next week, as Kahlil Bell leads a stable of Backs into UCLA’s Fall Practice. Last year, Bell suffered an ACL injury, curtailing a season in which his increased strength impressed spectators. It was obvious right from the first fall practice LAST year that Bell had gained POWER, especially in terms of NOT going down on the first hit. Even playing against DeWayne Walker-coached athletes, Bell broke tackles, and dragged the pile forward with regularity.
If Bell has added even MORE muscle for this season, he will be very difficult to stop. And it’s not just the muscle — This kid showed a lot a HEART with his constant second-efforts and refusals to be taken to the turf. So we know he’s got a lot of heart, but judging from one recent 7-on-7 session, he may be the Heart & SOUL of the team. He was loose, joking around, making (pretend) wagers, and entertaining his teammates with his antics and spirit.
But knee injuries can be tricky, so there are no guarantees as to what Bell will do this year. Head Coach Rick Neuheisel will certainly give Bell a fair chance, but if Bell gets re-injured, OR, if he plays too tentatively, Neuheisel will have several enticing options. Redshirt Freshman Raymond Carter, who also suffered an ACL injury last year, was cleared for practice recently as well.
Chane Moline is reportedly going to split time between Fullback and Tailback, so there is another threat to Bell’s number of touches (but NOT to his Starting spot). This article hasn’t been injected with a lot of OPINIONS up to this point, but here’s one: Based on the glowing reports of all the Bruins’ other Tailbacks, including 3 incoming guys, couldn’t Moline just STAY at Fullback? If he’s just going to get carries in short-yardage situations, why can’t he just get them from the Fullback position? It’s not like Norm Chow is going to be predictable, so just because they use a formation that includes a Fullback won’t mean that they are going to run. It’s Moline’s lack of breakaway capability that makes some of these other guys more exciting alternatives at the deep back position (even on 3rd and 1’s).
Also, with a lack of quality (and depth) at the Offensive Line positions, a two-back formation might help with the Blocking. It’s not like Moline shouldn’t be on the field for lots and lots of quality time.
Some of the faster applicants for a slice of the Tailback pie are Derrick Coleman, Aundre Dean, Robert McCurdy, and Milton Knox. Dean, and Coleman to a lesser extent, come in with reputations as potential impact players, while Knox was a legend at local Birmingham High School, where his style and results earned him comparisons to the incomparable Maurice Jones-Drew.
If you believe random, self-proclaimed “experts” on the Internet, it is very possible that Knox will be asked to redshirt this season… and here’s ANOTHER “opinion” — If sc can travel with about 10 Tailbacks and not have to redshirt anyone, why can’t the Bruins? The way injuries tend to come in bunches, it seems quite possible that the Bruins could NEED Knox (ready) come November/December. Don’t forget — Two of the guys ahead of him are coming back from serious ACL injuries.
If you’re wondering where the name Christian Ramirez is, it’s missing, because he went missing in action in the Academic arena. He will not be joining the Bruins this season.
Walk-on Craig Sheppard got injured in the Spring Scrimmage, but he, like Ramirez, is still listed on the roster. Ryen Carew and Justin Fareed, however, are gone from the Roster. Without them, the Bruins still have a total of 9 Tailbacks. But, of those 9, 1 is ineligible, 1 might be better-utilized at Fullback, 3 are coming off of injuries, and ALL the rest are UNPROVEN. So WHY Redshirt Knox?
The other overriding factor in NOT Redshirting Knox is Neuheisel/Chow’s ability to recruit. If Karl Dorrell was able to attract all the talented guys that are entering this year, then the Bruins should have no problem bringing in new Tailbacks next year, from around the Country, who are capable of stepping in and contributing immediately. So why save Knox? Let’s see what “MJ-D II” can do. Now.
Maybe it’s a little premature for all this speculation — Practice starts on August 5th, and that’s when performance differences — and maybe even an injury or two — will help make these decisions easier.
But as of right now, Kahlil Bell is the Bruins’ Starting Tailback, so here’s a little photo-tribute to HIM — Apparently, it’s HIS JOB — to keep — or to share, with one or more of the heralded young studs.