Brandon Bell is a big piece of the future for Penn State at linebacker, and Saturday, he gave everyone a glimpse of what’s to come.
But linebacker Stephen Obeng-Agyapong insists Bell, a true freshman linebacker, has been doing what he did Saturday all season in practice.
Bell made six tackles and was around the ball often in Penn State’s 23-20, overtime loss to Nebraska at Beaver Stadium. His play at weakside linebacker helped anchor a defense that allowed just 13 points in regulation -- Nebraska’s Kenny Bell took a kick to the house in the third quarter.
Bell is 18-years-old and has seen the field more and more as the season has gone on as he gets acclimated to college life after just five months in the program.
“He’s a real smart guy. He makes up for his size with that,” Obeng-Agyapong said. “He’s not the biggest of the linebackers, but he knows what he’s doing when he gets out there. He has abilities to make plays. You guys can look forward to him making big plays the next few years.”
Penn State entered the season with just six scholarship linebackers. Ben Kline had been limited with a shoulder injury and a chest injury two weeks back ended his season. Mike Hull was bothered by a knee injury for the first half of the season, as well, although he’s back to full strength now.
That’s allowed Bell to work his way into the rotation.
"It's a lot on your plate, it's a lot to learn,” senior linebacker Glenn Carson said of the transition to college football. “He's a smart kid, he's really football-savvy and he was able to get in there and make some really good plays today.”
Obeng-Agyapong said the biggest stride he’s seen in Bell’s game is aggression. As a young player, it’s difficult to be as aggressive because you don’t know how you much you can get away with. More often than not, though, aggression works out in a defensive player’s favor.
“That just comes with the territory,” Obeng-Agyapong said. “He’s definitely more explosive and aggressive. That definitely comes with experience.”
Cornerback Jordan Lucas, who is not one to fear aggression, said Bell has improved greatly since he arrived in June. With veterans like Carson and Mike Hull ahead of him, he’s taken everything in stride. Lucas added that he’s anxious to watch Bell grow even more this offseason.
“He has big shoes to fill, and it’s Linebacker U,” Lucas said. “So I know he’s going to want to be a great linebacker for us.”