Bell looking to rebound

In sports, as in life, expectations occasionally cause more harm than good, and for wide receiver George Bell, not meeting those expectations in his first year at ASU was a tough pill to swallow. After catching only nine passes for 84 yards in his first season, Bell has been determined to make up for a season, individually, that wasn't up to the standards he set for himself.

Nonetheless, last season provided a learning experience for him to take into his senior season and learn from his mistakes.

"I can't really be mad because it was on nobody but me," Bell pointed out. "I've just got to come back this year, hungrier, work harder, and keep grinding. The only place I can go is up. There's really nothing worse than what I did last year in my eyes so I've just got to keep building off of it, put it in the past, and just keep working towards the future."

Even with his struggles, the coaches stood by Bell who even in the final game against Arizona was still a target on several throws during that contest. With the coaches in his corner, Bell knows he had to have confidence in his abilities in order to find success.

"It meant a whole lot," Bell confessed. "It had to with the coaches trusting in me and me just coming out and practicing hard. I had a couple injuries during the year that I had to play through, and I finally got healthy and the coaches just trusted me. If a coach is trusting you then you automatically have to trust in yourself."

Now, in his second spring session of D-I football, Bell knows what he needs to do in order to meet his own expectations going into his final year of college ball.

"He is looking good," said head coach Dennis Erickson on the wide receiver's performance this far in the spring. "He has a lot of work to do. George was hurt a lot last year, but he's healthy now. He just has to continue to get better and he does have the ability to do it. If T.J. (Simpson) is hurt he better step up because that will be huge for us."

"This spring is about looking the ball in," Bell said. "I had too many drops last year in my eyes. I never dropped passes like that in JUCO, so it was out of my character. I've just been making sure I look the ball all the way in, and staying physical. I was a good blocker, but I can always get better. I just want to get better in every aspect of my game."

Helping Bell reach his expectations is junior starting quarterback Brock Osweiler who takes over for the injured Steven Threet. Osweiler, who started the final two games of last season for the Sun Devils, including the Territorial Cup win over U of A, comes into the season with high expectations himself.

"He's coming out, showing leadership and he's motivating guys to practice hard," Bell mentioned of Osweiler. "He got thrown in the last two games and he didn't play up to his standards in the U of A game, but to us he played well. He wanted to win that game and it showed to the whole team. His work ethic and his drive are pushing everybody else to get better."

While Osweiler gets most of the attention at the quarterback position, freshman signal caller Mike Bercovici has been nearly as impressive since transferring this spring. While he won't be pushing Osweiler for playing time in the near future, the freshman possesses a lightning quick release that makes even the most simple football fan stop and watch.

"Bercovici slings the ball," Bell put it bluntly. "His release is so quick. Once you see it leave his hand it's already on you and you've got to make sure you look that thing all the way through because it gets on you quick. He makes good decisions and he can squeeze the ball in tight spaces, and that's a good quarterback to me.

"Guys joke around with him like ‘aren't you supposed to be at your prom or something,' but the kid is hungry and you can always respect someone like that. He wants to play and perform as good as Brock, if not better than Brock, so everyone respects him."

With the new alignment of the Pac-12, many have predicted the 2011 Sun Devils to capture the Pac-12 South crown. After only winning six games the year before these may seem like unrealistic expectations, but for Bell they are nothing more than words as his focus is on the now.

"Honestly we can't deal with those expectations right now because the season is still a long time away," Bell declared. "We've got to worry about spring ball, then after that we have summer workouts and camp. Once we get through camp then that's time to kick it in gear and worry about that.

"Right now we're worried about getting better in spring ball."


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