We are rolling right along with our preview of 2014 Penn State players. With opponent profiles and more in-depth position previews coming in August, look for the player previews to come pretty much every day between now and then. Up today is sophomore linebacker Brandon Bell.
Bell was part of Penn State’s 2013 recruiting class brought in by former head coach Bill O’Brien. From May’s Landing, New Jersey, Bell was a standout player at Oakcrest High School, having the athleticism to play both running back and linebacker. He earned several recognitions during his senior season after recording an amazing 112 tackles, two sacks, four forced fumbles and an interception. In his high school career, Bell collected 309 tackles and rushed for over 1,000 yards.
Rated as a 3-star recruit by Rivals, Bell was ranked as the No. 23 prospect in the state of New Jersey and the No. 42 outside linebacker overall. Besides the Nittany Lions, Bell had offers from Boston College, Purdue, West Virginia and Rutgers, among others.
Bell entered Penn State at a time when the Nittany Lions were facing depth issues at linebacker. Because of that, he was given a roster spot as a true freshman. He ended up appearing in 10 games last season, making a start in the season finale at Wisconsin. Though he had experience at middle linebacker, he found himself playing outside linebacker for the Nittany Lions.
During the 2013 season, Bell recorded a respectable 24 tackles. He really improved as the season went on and finished with six tackles in each of the final two games.
Thanks to the talent that he showed, especially at the end of last season, Bell is expected to begin the 2014 season as a starting outside linebacker for the Nittany Lions and will look to build on his solid performances. With the amount of playing time he’s expected to see in 2014, Bell could really take a big step forward and be a difference-maker on defense.
As a starter at outside linebacker, I expect Bell to double his production from 2013 reach upwards of 50 tackles as well as a sack or two.