Bell Ready to Get Cracking at PSU

Nearly fully recovered from a shoulder injury, the New Jersey linebacker is anxious to arrive at University Park for his freshman season with the Nittany Lions.

Brandon Bell admits he is only 90 percent recovered from a shoulder strain suffered a couple of weeks into his final high season. What he's learned, though, has 100 percent stuck with him.

The Penn State Class of 2013 middle linebacker has hit the weights hard since his rehab program has ended, and is ready to bring his built-up, 6-foot-2, 215-pound frame — plus the lessons he's learned — to University Park this summer.

"I learned that I'm not unbreakable," Bell said. "It was kind of my first real injury in my football career besides an ankle sprain, and it was kind of slow.

"I didn't do much until I started my rehab, and about a month and a half later, I started getting back to the weights," he continued. "I got my strength back from the few months I was off."

Bell will graduate from Oakcrest High in two weeks, but the FOX Sports NEXT three-star prospect already has college on his mind. He said that he and his family have already begun searching for college and dorm room materials, and he's already found his summer roommate, too. And, like most of his college supplies, it will mark a new moment in his life, too.

Northview High (Century, Fla.) cornerback Neiko Robinson is the only class member that Bell has yet to meet, as Robinson visited State College during a separate weekend than the rest of the class in January due to travel and schedule complications. That doesn't mean Bell doesn't know plenty about his soon-to-be roommate and teammate.

"I'm excited to get to know him over the summer and the next couple of years," Bell explained. "He never made it up the time I was up there, but he's a cool guy. I'm soon going to get in touch with him."

He's had no problem getting in touch with State linebacker coach Ron Vanderlinden, though. He converses often with his position coach via Facebook and phone calls, and the senior added that Vanderlinden recently stopped by Oakcrest. And since contact limitations are no longer in place, Bell was able to gain valuable one-on-one time with his future coach. The two discussed plenty about Penn State, its defensive scheme and life in general.

The linebacker finds it important that Vanderlinden continues to check in and offer advice, and Bell has been akin to a sponge with all of it. He's acutely aware of the Lions linebacker situation, one that is short on depth, meaning he could be needed from day one.

"Coach Van and people that follow Penn State are always reminding me that I might be thrown right into the fire, and I'm always thinking about it," he explained. "It's always good to find out what the linebackers are doing now to get ready, and he's always giving me words of wisdom.

"He shows me tapes to make sure I'm doing those types of drills, and we go over a little bit in the playbook and certain defensive things."

And as for the need to potentially play early?

"I'm going to get in this summer and work hard, and I know it's completely different from high school to college. But being my freshman year, it's similar in that I'll be working with older guys.

"You have to have confidence, or otherwise, you're like a chicken with its head cutoff out there."

He received a modify version of the PSU playbook not long after signing in February, and and is confident he can grasp the system. He has also received advice from the early enrollees of his class.

"I got some calls, and it's really terminology and stuff like that," Bell said. "I got most of that down for the most part, so when it comes to really learning the playbook, it will be easy to understand.

"I'm really close with [defensive backs] Anthony and Jordan Smith, and [receiver] Richy [Anderson] and [tight end Adam] Breneman were some of the guys I hung out with during Blue-White weekend," Bell continued. "They told me about the speed of the game, and how it increases from high school. They also said to get ready to work and grind once you enroll."

With two summer courses already scheduled, it will soon be time to hit the classroom and weight room at his new home. It's an adventure he's excited to pursue.

"I'm not the only freshmen that's been through it or going through it, and there will be enough time to get adequately adjusted," Bell said. "I'm excited for the summer, and to get in there with coach [Craig] Fitz[gerald]. I'm ready to come in, work and grind, and be a part of the team."

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