Originally written on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 8/7/13
A year ago, he did it all. In what was really quite a disappointing season for the Spartans, then junior running back Le’Veon Bell was a bright spot, putting the team on his back week-in-week-out, crashing, spinning and hurdling his way to a monstrous 1793 yard season. However, unfortunately for Michigan State, following his breakout season, Bell decided to forgo his senior season and enter into the NFL Draft, where he was eventually picked by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2nd round, 48th overall. Le’Veon Bell had a monster season for Michigan State last year, rushing for 1793 yards and 12 touchdowns. And now that brings the Michigan State football program to here. A little less than a month away from the 2013 season, where they will have to find some way to make up for those 1793 yards. “It concerns me very much,” Michigan State running backs coach Dave Warner said of replacing Bell. “When Coach Dantonio first moved things around and gave me the title, that’s when we started looking at our run `cut-ups’ from last year, that’s when it hit me. We’re missing a big part of what was our bread and butter, the run game and who was carrying the rock in Le’Veon. We know what we’ve got to fill those shoes and we’re going to figure out how to get it done.” And there are several places where Michigan State can draw from to attempt to fill those shoes. However, it certainly looks to be quite a daunting task and leaves the question of: Who is going to be the guy to step up and fill the void that Bell left? For red shirt junior running back Nick Hill, he says he thinks the solution will come from multiple sources. “We can’t just rely on one person to win games for us,” Hill said. “I think Michigan State is at it’s best when everyone is making plays. I think that it’s not filling in a hole of Le’Veon Bell. I think it’s getting back to the excellence of past years. The hole will be filled. It may not be coming from one person. It will be coming from multiple players. Not by one player but the whole.” For now, it seems as that could very well be the case, as Hill’s 51 attempts for 163 yards over the past two seasons make him the most experienced tailback on the squad. Other places the Spartans are looking at right now include red shirt junior Jeremy Langford, incoming freshman Delton Williams, and red shirt freshman Riley Bullough, who made the switch over from linebacker this past off season and has been listed first in the depth chart by Head Coach Mark Dantonio. “He’s a hard driver, that’s what he is,” Dantonio said. “He’s a football player. Made a great catch on the first day of practice, has great hands, pass protects, runs with authority, trains for it, works towards it, watches film for it. He’s just going to drive forward.” Red shirt freshman Riley Bullough (30) is still learning the tricks of the trade at the running back position. But for Bullough, he acknowledges that there definitely is a bit of a learning curve when you do something like make the jump from linebacker to the running back position. “I’m learning and trying to do the best I can,” Bullough said. “Camp is going to help me. It is all fresh and new, so I’m trying to learn as much as I can. The game is really fast and adjusting to that is what I’ve been working on most.” As for replacing Bell, Bullough also sheds some light on the fact that it can’t be done by just one guy. “Le’Veon Bell was a great player,” Bullough said. “Filling in his shoes is hard to do. You can’t get another guy like him since he was so talented. We are all different and bring different things to the table.” As this point in time, there is certainly a lot of competition at the running back position, but according to Hill, that most definitely isn’t a bad thing. “To me, the more competition the better,” Hill said. “The more competition makes me better, the more competition makes the team better. I love competition and I wouldn’t want it any other way.” For now, there are still a lot of questions as to how Michigan State will resolve this issue. One possibility could be a ‘thunder and lightning’ combo with Bullough being the thunder and Hill, the lightning. However, it may take a few games to truly see how that position is going to shake its self out. And that first game is only a few weeks away, as on Friday, August 30th, the Spartans will take on Western Michigan at 8 PM to get their 2013 campaign under way.   Follow Ryan Squanda on Twitter @squandaryan  
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