Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit  |  Last updated 9/6/12
EAST LANSING, Mich. -- LeVeon Bell is used to the crush that comes from defensive fronts. But the Michigan State tailback has yet to see anything like the media attention that's only just beginning should he have many more games like his 210-yard rushing effort in the Spartans' 17-13 victory over Boise State. National web sites needed just one game to begin singing his Heisman Trophy praises. No one gushed more than ESPN.coms Adam Rittenberg, who wrote: Forget Montee Ball or Denard Robinson. Bell might be the Big Tens top Heisman Trophy candidate. He helped his cause and earned a long soak in the tub. Sports Illustrated, ESPN and CBSSports.com had separate straw polls of Heisman voters this week, and each poll came up with the same top three: 1. Matt Barkley, QB, USC 2. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia 3. Le'Veon Bell, TB, MSU Should Bell rush for even close to 200 yards Saturday at Central Michigan and again the next week against Notre Dame, heaven help the two quarterbacks ahead of him now. Voters give you bonus Heisman points for running over the Irish, no matter how overrated they happen to be. Bell would then get more media love than he can imagine. Will he be able to handle it? What Bell has shown us to this point is, hes level-headed. He deflected credit for his 265 yards of total offense against Boise State to his blockers and doesn't appear to have a boastful bone in his body. However, you never truly know how a player will react to the hype tsunami until it's upon him. Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio realizes that. I think what we have to make sure we're not doing is, don't drink the Kool-Aid around here, Dantonio said. He's always come out and played hard. He's always come out and practiced hard. He's always tried to be a complete football player. "So, I don't think that's going to change, whether he's blocking or catching the ball or running with the football. I think he would play on special teams if we asked him to, and I think that's the trademark of a good player. So, his attitude is in the right place right now. Hopefully, he can handle things. We're going to find out. There is a lot of media around this, which is great. Bell's humility appears to real. I asked him for the source of his approach to accomplishment. My mom, said Bell, his face lighting up with a smile. When I was growing up, my mom would tell me, What you get, you dont get by yourself. "And I also most definitely could not be doing what I am without God. I pray to Him daily. Lisa Bell, who drives up for every home game from Columbus, Ohio, also came up with his name. It was her idea, he said. Her friend had a son named DeVeon. Im not sure of the spelling, but it was just like my name with D as the first letter. She wanted my name to be different from that, and put L on the front. I love my name; its different. A lot of people pronounce it wrong, but I just politely correct them. Its LAY-vee-ON -- which, in Jamaica, rhymes with HEIS-mon. Hey, a player in the Heisman race can be all sorts of fun. I covered two Heisman winners at Michigan, Desmond Howard and Charles Woodson. When a player wins the Heisman, they perform magic every week. You see things that you remember for a lifetime. The Spartans are hoping Bell wins their first big bronze trophy with the player (New York University player Ed Smith was the model for sculptor Frank Eliscu) doing what has become known as the Heisman pose. Desmond popularized that pose in 1991, after a long touchdown return against Ohio State. The Heisman Trophy ball carrier isnt actually posing, though. Hes preparing to stiff-arm a defender. Guess what Bells favorite move is on the football field? Its not hurdling, which he did against Boise State, or the old shake-and-bake. Its stiff-arming, Bell said. It comes naturally to me, and its a good thing for me. Ive got long arms, and thats my favorite move. In case you wondered, Bell didnt run the hurdles at Groveport (Ohio) Madison High. He was a high jumper and a point guard on the basketball team. Bell said he won a national championship on an AAU team, All-Ohio Red of Columbus. His teammates were former Ohio State star Jared Sullinger, a 2012 first-round pick by the Boston Celtics, and Michigan point guard Trey Burke, the Big Tens Freshman of the Year last season. Basketball helped me crowd-wise, in learning how to deal with pressure, Bell said. It helped me with my footwork, too. But I knew my sport was going to be football. That Rittenberg suggested one football game put Bell ahead of Ball and Robinson as the Big Tens leading Heisman contender was quite a statement. Consider that Bell fell just short of 1,000 yards rushing in 2011 for the Spartans, while Ball rushed for 1,923 yards and scored 39 touchdowns. Ball managed just 120 yards against Northern Iowa in the opener and found out how fickle the Heisman voters can be. The three straw polls mentioned earlier all had Ball rated fourth or fifth. Robinson has exceeded 2,000 yards passing and 1,000 yards rushing in consecutive seasons. He threw for 200 with one touchdown and two interceptions Saturday in a thumping by Alabama, which limited him to 10 carries for 27 yards, and completely fell off the Heisman map. The Heisman spotlight is obviously fickle. Challenges abound for the candidates. The one most up to those challenges gets to strike the pose for real. Just remember that its Bells favorite move.
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