Oct. 7, 2008
By Mike Leary
UCLA Sports Information Assistant
Kahlil Bell's career at UCLA certainly has not been easy. Injuries and coaching changes have created adversity for the senior tailback, but to Bell that is simply all in the past. He is focused on the present and just wants to do all that he can to help his team win more games this season.
When asked what his expectations for the season were, Bell stated, "Just to finish strong. I don't really worry about statistics. Everyone would like to do well and have a successful year numbers-wise; that's always a goal, but at this point in my career I've really just stopped worrying about stuff like that. If I run hard and play with passion, the rest of that stuff will take care of itself. I'm just trying to finish strong, finish healthy, and help our team win."
Bell stepped onto the UCLA campus in 2005 as a relatively unknown two-star recruit out of Marin Catholic High School in Kentfield, Calif. In fact, UCLA was the only school that offered him a scholarship to play football. But Bell worked his way into the lineup that year, becoming the number three tailback and the starting kickoff returner. He capped off the season by rushing for 136 yards and two touchdowns in a victory over Northwestern in the Sun Bowl, earning him co-MVP honors of the game.
During his sophomore season in 2006, Bell continued to have success on the field. He ran the ball each time with power and agility, a skill he might have picked up from watching a certain St. Louis Rams running back.
"I like watching a lot of guys, but if there's one guy I'd like to be able to run like it would probably be Steven Jackson," Bell says. "I really like how he runs. He's quick enough to make people miss, but he's also big enough to be a banger and a bruiser. I really like his all-around game, and I think he brings a presence to the game."
The next year, Bell started the season out with a stellar 195-yard performance against Stanford in the opener. He built on that success and eventually gained the starting tailback position by the middle of the season. Unfortunately, his season was cut short when he tore his ACL in the eighth game of the season against Washington State.
"It was definitely challenging at times because it took so long (the recovery period) and it was strenuous," he stated. "At the same time, I knew if I could just continue to stay positive, I would be back in time for next season and I would still be able to do the things I know I'm capable of doing. It was very humbling to go through what I went through: starting well and being productive throughout the season and then having the injury occur like that. Everything happens for a reason, and I guess it's a form of being tested. I'm just trying to pass the test."
Bell has definitely been tested again this year, injuring his ankle in the opener against Tennessee, but that hasn't stopped this senior from staying positive and looking to help his team in any way he can.
"Things can happen during the course (of a season) that no one really expects, but you have to stay the course," Bell adds. "If you stay the course and stay focused on the task at hand every single play; and if you focus on that play and then wipe that play aside and you learn to play like that, that's what causes success and helps you through tough times."
It seems that Bell stays true to that mantra as he has put all of the adversity he has endured behind him and looks forward to helping the Bruins gain as many victories as possible in the 2008 season.