Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Penn State Nittany Lions [Print without images]

Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Q&A: 2013 signee LB Brandon Bell

By Josh Moyer

Linebacker Brandon Bell (Mays Landing, N.J./Oakcrest) committed to Penn State in June and became the Nittany Lions' first linebacker pledge of the 2013 class.

NittanyNation recently spoke with Bell at length about his expectations, how he has improved and his take on redshirting.

NittanyNation: Brandon, your time in high school is creeping to a close here. Has it sunk in yet that you'll be playing for Penn State in a couple months? Have you done anything to prepare yourself like set goals or anything?

Brandon Bell: Yeah, it hits me each day really. I think [March 25] I got the notice about stuff you need -- alarm clock, laundry detergent and that kind of stuff -- and the report date -- June 22, that's the date for everyone.

And, yeah, actually, that's part of the thing I was trying to do to prepare myself mentally. As far as school goes, I always want to do good in there and at least average a 3.0 every semester. As far as football, I don't know. I haven't really thought about 'x' number of tackles or sacks. I just want to be one of the nation's top linebackers in a couple years.

NN: What are your expectations for this first season?

BB: At linebacker, I hope to contribute on special teams. And I'm looking forward to getting in the weight room and getting stronger, faster and prepared physically. But contributing on special teams would be the first option to try to aim for. And if that works out good, maybe a smaller role in the actual defense. But I want to start with special teams.

NN: You mention playing early; what about redshirting?

BB: Actually, [linebackers coach] Ron Vanderlinden, we had a sit-down last summer with the whole bowl-ban thing and they were saying the redshirt's up to me if I really want to. But, honestly, just saying I want it, I just can't really do that.

I want to wait to see how I do. And if I really will be looking to make a contribution, then I'm all for getting on the field early. And, if I need to redshirt, it wouldn't hurt either. You'd get another bowl and get acclimated to school more. I guess either one wouldn't hurt. I just can't picture myself just taking a redshirt to take one.

NN: Have you done anything extra or differently to get in shape or get stronger before you get to Happy Valley?

BB: Not exactly. Once they sent the workouts for us to do, I started those -- and it's actually cool because my high school coaches have been coming up to me and actually took on their weight-lifting program. So the kids in there aren't doing that much different from what I'm doing.

But I haven't taken up anything extraordinary. Maybe I'll take up a trainer next month. But I'm in the weight room every day and just grinding out. You know, Coach Vanderlinden said, when you work out, just think about your next year and the next couple years after that. Just get better each day.

NN: Do you feel like you've gotten better since last season?

BB: Definitely. I can say I'm stronger because, at the end of the season, I was coming off a shoulder injury and I wasn't playing 100 percent. So, after the season, I took some time off, rehabbed my shoulder for a good two months and, a little before signing day, I started working again and now I'm pretty much full-go.

So my bench is up from before; I'm kind of getting back to where I was before I injured myself. It was like a second-degree sprain. I could've gotten surgery, but then I would've been out [the rest of the high school season]. I probably would be better by now, but I just couldn't do that. But I'm pretty much fully recovered now.

NN: You and Penn State have been through a lot this past year between the sanctions and everything. What was it about PSU that you made you want to stick with it?

BB: When it came to picking a school, especially with the sanctions, we got hit hard. But all of my goals I wanted to accomplish, Penn State was still the place. Just, overall, as far as academics and playing time -- I mean, the bowl game is still kind of a big thing for me, but there's an opportunity for that. It's Linebacker U, and Coach Ron Vanderlinden is a big part of that. It just seemed like the right place for me. The community, the whole college town, is crazy about football, and it just seemed right for me.