Quite simply, there's one thing everyone needs to know about Arizona running back Mike Bell.
"I won't stop until I'm done, no matter what the situation is," he recently told ColtPower's Ed Thompson. "Eventually I'll get to where I want to be, so it doesn't matter what route it is. I won't stop until I'm on top."
Bell has learned first-hand the value of hanging tough and working hard for all that's important to you in life. Surviving a tumultous five years at the University of Arizona, the poised and focused Bell never lost site of his goals.
The turmoil included a bizarre reign by his head coach, John Mackovic, that
resulted in a players' revolt midway through Bell's second season in 2002.
According to an ESPN.com report, more than a dozen Arizona players were seeing
the campus psychiatrist to help deal with Mackovic's behavior. He was fired
midway through the 2003 season and defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz was named
the interim head coach. At the beginning of Bell's junior year, former Oklahoma
defensive coordinator Mike Stoops took the reigns and began the slow process of
rebuilding a football program that was reeling from the loss of talented players
who had thrown up their arms and walked away.
"It would have been easy to just quit, but staying there and finishing and ending on a good note was a really big accomplishment for me." said Bell. "A lot of people dropped out. I know we started with 27 people and only four of us were able to stay with all the coaching changes and the turmoil that went on at our school."
Bell's one of the great values in this draft -- a player who is undoubtedly going to make an impact at the NFL level. He's not drawing quite the same amount of attention as some of the other marquee backs at the moment, but that's primarily because of the impact that all the changes Arizona's football program went through during his collegiate career. That impacted continuity, including on the offensive line that Bell had to count on to help open some holes for him as he shouldered an increasing workload for the team.
Fortunately for Bell, when his blockers didn't get the job done, he had the
vision and mental quickness to recognize it early -- and an uncanny ability to
adjust on the fly. His former running backs coach, Kasey Dunn, once said,
"Mike can make someone miss in a phone booth."
Bell shows the same mental quickness and poise when speaking in front of the cameras and the media, handling a wide variety of questions with a nice sense of humor and thoughtful responses.
"I was raised properly, and my parents taught me how to speak well in front of people," he explained. "I learned a lot in school, I took a lot of communications courses, so I think that helped out."
And his teammates recognized that Bell was a special individual that they could count on as a leader. So much so that they voted him team captain for both his junior and senior year campaigns.
"I think a lot of it had to do with my work ethic and my commitment to the program. Me being down there five summers -- including the one just out of high school -- people realized that I was just there to get the job done. A lot of my teammates trusted me, and my point of being there was to play well and help the people around me to play well. And I tried to bring that to the field every day in practice and during the game," he said.
In addition to Bell's great vision on the field as a running back, he provides a complete, balanced skill set to prospective NFL employers. Despite the difficult times he had at Arizona while the team dealt with so many changes, his overall experience provides him with an edge in landing a job with a team that needs a highly versatile back.
"I had the opportunity to be in an offense that gave me the opportunity to do everything. I was able to catch some balls, do some blocking, and ran the ball. So my ability to everything (at the NFL level) would let me stay in the game throughout the entire game," he explained.
And Bell's durability will be another major selling point as teams evaluate him and position him on their draft boards. Despite being counted on to get the tough, inside yards where bruises, sprains and more serious injuries are just part of the job, Bell emerged unscathed.
"I was able to come out of Arizona without any serious injuries, that was a major blessing," he said.
According to the NCAA, Bell finished his career at Arizona with 3,157 yards rushing (4.7 yard-average) and 17 touchdowns. He also caught 56 passes for 469 yards and a touchdown. Bell rushed for over 150 yards twice during his senior year and had eleven 100-plus yard rushing games during his career at Arizona.ColtPower Insiders can learn more about Mike Bell and can find out why he qualifies as a Colts Hot Prospect in this exclusive interview.