EAST LANSING, Mich. – Michigan State junior Le’Veon Bell, who ranks first in the Big Ten and third in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision in rushing at 137.3 yards per game, has been named recipient of the 2012 Elite Running Back Trophy (National Running Back of the Year) by the College Football Performance Awards. Bell becomes just the second Spartan to earn a CFPA Trophy since the program’s inception in 2008, joining All-American Greg Jones, who was presented the 2009 Linebacker Trophy (National Linebacker of the Year). He also becomes the third-straight Big Ten running back to be honored by the CFPA (2010: Mikel Leshoure, Illinois; 2011: Montee Ball, Wisconsin).
The goal of College Football Performance Awards is to provide the most scientifically rigorous conferments in college football. Recipients are selected exclusively based upon objective scientific rankings of the extent to which individual players increase the overall effectiveness of their teams.
The 2012 CFPA Elite Running Back Trophy will be formally presented to Bell at halftime of Saturday’s MSU-Loyola of Chicago men’s basketball game.
A first-team All-Big Ten selection (coaches and media) and Doak Walker Award semifinalist, Bell has rushed 350 times for 1,648 yards and 11 touchdowns. His 1,648 rushing yards rank sixth in the NCAA FBS and mark the second-highest single-season total in MSU history. He leads the NCAA FBS in carries (350) – the fourth-best single-season total in school history. Bell has accounted for 91 percent of Michigan State’s rushing yards (1,648 of 1,819) and 78 percent of its rushing attempts (350 of 450) in 2012.
The 6-foot-2, 237-pound Bell is one of just four players in the NCAA FBS to produce three 200-yard rushing games in 2012 (Toledo’s David Fluellen, Air Force’s Cody Getz, Western Kentucky’s Antonio Andrews). He also is only the second Spartan to post three 200-yard rushing games in a season (Lorenzo White: school-record four times in 1985). Bell has recorded seven 100-yard rushing games – tied for the second-highest single-season total in MSU history.
According to STATS, Bell has gained 834 of his 1,648 rushing yards (51 percent) after contact, which ranks first among all NCAA FBS running backs. In addition, he has produced 77 first downs and 32 runs of 10 or more yards, including 12 gains of 20 or more yards.
Bell ranks second in the Big Ten and 16th in the NCAA FBS in all-purpose yards, averaging 155.5 yards per game. He also ranks among the conference leaders in rushing TDs (seventh with 11) and total offense (10th at 137.3 ypg.). A complete back, his 30 receptions (154 yards) rank fifth on the team.
The Columbus, Ohio, native has produced the top single-game total in the NCAA FBS this season for carries (44 vs. Boise State) and eighth-most rushing yards (266 vs. Minnesota).
“Congratulations to Le’Veon Bell on earning the 2012 CFPA Elite Running Back Trophy,” CFPA Executive Director Brad Smith said. “As a result of his on-field performance, Bell joins a prolific circle of CFPA running backs, including Trent Richardson, LaMichael James, Montee Ball, Marcus Lattimore, Jahvid Best, Fozzy Whittaker, Mikel Leshoure, De’Anthony Thomas, Dexter McCluster and C.J. Spiller.”
“Congratulations to Le’Veon Bell for being recognized as the nation’s elite running back by the College Football Performance Awards,” MSU head coach Mark Dantonio said. “Le’Veon is very deserving of this honor. No running back in the country was asked to carry more of his team’s workload. His ability to make people miss combined with his power to gain yards after contact make him a special player. Le’Veon produced consistent numbers despite being the main focus of opposing defenses each week.”
“I’m both humbled and honored to receive the 2012 CFPA Elite Running Back Trophy,” Bell said. “When you look around the country – and around the Big Ten in particular – there are a lot of worthy players for this trophy.
“As a running back, no one knows better than I do that this isn’t an individual honor, it’s a team award. The offensive line, tight ends, fullbacks and receivers all played a significant role in helping me have a productive season. I’m also thankful for the coaching staff having faith in me and for placing me in situations where I could be successful.”
During the 2012 regular-season, Bell was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week three times (Aug. 31 vs. Boise State; Sept. 22 vs. Eastern Michigan; Nov. 24 vs. Minnesota).
He rushed 35 times for a career-high 266 yards – the most by a Big Ten player this season – and a touchdown in MSU’s 26-10 win at Minnesota, as the Spartans became bowl eligible for a school record sixth-straight season. Bell was named CFPA National Running Back of the Week and Big Ten Co-Offensive Player of the Week for his career day against the Gophers. His 266 rushing yards are the sixth-highest single-game total in MSU history. Bell capped off an 11-play, 57-yard drive with an 8-yard TD run midway through the fourth quarter that iced the game for the Spartans. He also ripped off runs of 26, 40 and 30 yards against the Gophers while accounting for a career-best 275 all-purpose yards – the ninth-best single-game total in MSU history.
Bell earned Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week honors after rushing for 253 yards (36 carries) and a TD in MSU’s 23-7 victory over Eastern Michigan. His 253 yards mark the seventh-highest single-game rushing total in school history.
He was named the Big Ten Co-Offensive Player of the Week and CBSSports.com’s Heisman Player of the Week after rushing for 210 yards on a career-best 44 carries in MSU’s 17-13 victory over No. 24 Boise State in the season opener. Bell outgained the entire Boise State offense, 210-206, and 84 of his 210 yards came after contact. His 210 rushing yards also were the most by a Big Ten running back in a season opener since Purdue’s Ralph Bolden in 2009 (234 vs. Toledo) and the most by a Spartan in an opener since T.J. Duckett in 2000 (219 vs. Marshall).
Bell has rushed for 3,201 yards and 32 TDs in 39 career games. He ranks among MSU’s all-time leaders in rushing TDs (sixth with 32), rushing attempts (sixth with 639) and rushing yards (seventh with 3,201). Bell ranks among NCAA FBS active leaders in carries (eighth with 639), rushing yards (11th with 3,201) and rushing TDs (tied for 18th with 32). He has 11 career 100-yard rushing games, which is eighth most in MSU history. Bell also has 76 career receptions for 518 yards (6.8 avg.) and one score.