Michigan State Football: Top 10 players of the Mark Dantonio era

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No. 1 on this list, to no one’s surprise, is Le’Veon Bell. The former two-star running back from Columbus, Ohio, had a mere four college offers for Division 1 programs as a high school player and Michigan State may have gotten the steal of the century.

Bell, ranked the No. 117 player in Ohio for the 2010 class by 247Sports, exceeded all expectations placed upon him mostly because no one expected anything from him. Not even breaking the top-100 player list in Ohio seems like a robbery considering the career he had at Michigan State and the one he continues to have as one of the NFL’s top-three running backs today.

Dantonio took a chance on Le’Veon by being his only major offer and the 6-foot-2, 230-pound back didn’t disappoint. He delivered and made Dantonio look like one of the smartest guys to ever roam the sidelines in college football.

As a freshman in 2010, everyone was shocked at his sudden emergence from seemingly nowhere. Bell racked up 605 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground while catching 11 passes for 97 yards. He improved on those stellar numbers during his sophomore season, rushing for 948 yards and 13 touchdowns while catching 35 passes for 267 yards.

It wasn’t until his junior season that people around the nation started to take notice as Bell became the Spartans’ offense — I mean this in every sense of the phrase. Bell literally carried the otherwise lethargic offense, rushing for 1,793 yards and 12 touchdowns on over 380 carries. He added 32 catches for 167 yards and a score.

The following offseason, he decided to skip his senior year, most likely due to the fact he couldn’t sustain another 380-carry season, and headed to the NFL as a second round pick to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Le’Veon is one of the NFL’s best running backs and Steelers’ great Jerome Bettis recently said he could go down as one of the best to ever play the position.

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