Sept. 26, 2007
Stats current through 9/16/07
The sensational start to UNLV linebacker Beau Bell's senior season - he currently paces the Mountain West Conference in tackles - is certainly causing some opposing coaches and players to lose some sleep while trying to figure out a game plan to slow the one-man wrecking crew.
Bell, on the other hand, has no such trouble catching shut eye, preferring long naps to just about anything else and whom once slept away 23 hours of a day!
Heading into tonight's league opener against Utah, the playmaking defender has not been caught napping on the field, however, as his 31 takedowns through three games can attest. Bell is averaging 10.3 tackles per game to rank 35th in the nation, and the native of Tustin, Calif., also has a pair of quarterback sacks and two forced fumbles. Bell was all over the field against top-25 Hawaii last Saturday at Sam Boyd Stadium, setting a season high with 12 tackles for his second-straight double-digit tackle performance.
Bell's quick start is the direct result of the most focused off-season for the Rebel veteran, who is now in his last collegiate season.
"My final season means a lot to me. I have been thinking about it through the whole summer," Bell says. "This is my last guaranteed time to play football. I think about that every day when I got out and play." If there is one thing that Bell knows first hand though, is that playing through any season isn't anything but guaranteed."
The ultra-athletic linebacker has been hampered by injuries the past two years and the sometimes dominant Bell has either been slowed at times on the field or kept off it completely because of one ailment or another. As a sophomore it was a groin injury that allowed him to start just seven games, though he did play in all 11, and last year a severely sprained ankle suffered in game seven against BYU forced Bell to the sidelines for the rest of the season. Shedding the label of injury prone is something that Bell wants to do, even though he knows it is something he can't totally control playing middle linebacker, a position where violent collisions are a constant.
"I play linebacker and you never know what can happen. I get nicks and bruises, but I still play through it," he says. "I want to play a full year with my guys. Last year I was depressed because I could not play. I was on the sidelines and I could not do anything about it."
Another main goal that Bell wants to do something about is the Rebels' win-loss total in 2007. In his first three seasons with the program, he won just two games each year. He says he believes this season will be different. UNLV opened the season with its first road win in more than three years and the Rebels followed that up by nearly upsetting No. 5 Wisconsin before falling just short, 20-13. Getting the Rebels past that two-win mark and back toward a winning season and a possible bowl bid not only is important for Bell in terms of his own legacy as a player, but also for the overall development of the program.
"That is really important. Personally, I don't want to go out with another two-win season. I have won two games every year and that is not how I want to leave," says Bell. "For the program, once we get over that hill, we are going to be doing very good. I know coach (Mike) Sanford is going to take this team to the next level."
The next level for Bell is likely to feature an NFL uniform and games on Sunday. He got the chance to impress 15 NFL scouts last weekend against the Warriors, where he displayed his vast talents on the field. In fact Bell not only has the chance to become the highest drafted linebacker in school history, he could become the first Rebel to be drafted in the league's first round. Bell, however, isn't entertaining any thoughts of the NFL and a professional career just yet.
"It`s way in the back of my mind right now, because I am really not thinking about that right now. Right now I am thinking about Utah and this season. Once you start worrying about other stuff that is when you get off track and you're not focused on what is in front of you right now."
Although his NFL dreams can wait for now, simply dreaming is one thing that Bell doesn't miss the opportunity to do if he is not in class or on the football field. Which brings us to Bell's hobby: Sleeping.
For most college students, especially football players, any spare time is usually spent with a joy stick in hand, controlling the own virtual likenesses in the latest college football video game. Not so with Bell, who spends his down time with eyes shut, taking his version of cat naps - which can often last three to four hours. One time when he was 14 he caught the flu and slept for close to 23 hours and a normal slumber for the linebacker, with naps mixed in, is usually around 12 hours a day.
"Any chance I get, I sleep," Bell says. "Some people sleep to relieve stress and that's what I do."
One thing that Bell will never forget about his playing days is the opportunity he had to play with his older brother Zach, who was a Rebel linebacker from 2001-04 and was a senior when Beau was a rookie for the Rebels. Beau's fondest memory was his first college game on the road at SEC power Tennessee, played before more than 100,000 fans at Neyland Stadium. The two brothers talked in the locker room before the game, with Zach pumping up Beau and telling him that he belonged out on the field.
"He hyped me up so much before that game, it was unbelievable," Bell says. "That will be the main thing that I remember is playing with my brother. I learned so much from him and he taught me a lot of stuff. Playing with him is the highlight of my Rebel career."
With the majority of the regular season remaining, Bell will have plenty of opportunities to give Rebel fans more highlights as Bell wraps up what has been a stellar four years wearing the Scarlet and Gray.
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