While many who follow Michigan State football were not surprised about the decision junior running back Le’Veon made on Thursday declaring himself eligible for this spring’s NFL Draft, it still was hard news to take.
In a statement released by the Spartans athletic department Bell and Spartans head football coach Mark Dantonio commented on the news.
“This was the hardest decision of my life,” said Bell. “It’s difficult to leave my teammates and coaches as well as Spartan Nation, but I couldn’t pass on pursuing my dream and the opportunity to change my mom’s life.
“I couldn’t have written a better script for my final game in a Spartan uniform, coming back from a 13-0 deficit against TCU to win in the final minute. I ran the ball well against a great TCU defense, but the most important thing was getting the ‘W.’ It was exciting to celebrate with my teammates one last time and leave on that note.
“Although I’m leaving, Michigan State still has some capable running backs returning, in Nick Hill and Jeremy Langford. Those guys will be running behind a talented and experienced offensive line. Nick and Jeremy are both tough, talented athletes and their time is now.”
Dantonio knows this was not an easy decision for his star back.
Le’Veon Bell established himself as a running back who could carry the load,” said Dantonio. “As he carried the ball over 380 times this season for us. Although he was the Big Ten’s leading rusher following the regular season, it was his physical durability that was most impressive.
“As a 20-year-old, Le’Veon faced an extremely difficult decision. While I do believe there was both personal and program value in Le’Veon returning for his senior season, I acknowledge the difficult choice he had to make.”