Phoenix — Le'Veon Bell was one of the best running backs in Michigan State history, but for whatever reason, the Spartans jumped to the next level after he left for the NFL in 2013, winning the Rose Bowl last year and the Cotton Bowl this year.
Now thriving with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Bell said Wednesday he's not jealous of his former teammates who he said have given Michigan State the appearance of "an elite program."
In Pittsburgh, he said he's experiencing what helps make the Spartans so good.
"I just think about the way the Michigan State family was. We were so family oriented there," Bell said while walking around the Super Bowl's radio row. "It was such a brotherhood, and I got blessed to get drafted to the Steelers and it's kind of the same way. It's kind of a family brotherhood. Everybody's close, everybody loves each other and it means a lot to me."
And Bell means a lot to the Steelers. In 2014, he had 1,361 rushing yards, 854 receiving yards and 11 total touchdowns, taking a gigantic leap in his second season. Bell credits his offseason training — he dropped about 20 pounds — and another year of reps for him becoming one of the top running backs in the NFL.
As he's succeeded in the league, Michigan State has become one of the more revered programs in college football.
"Obviously we were looking for a national title this year, but it wasn't such a bad year," he said, adding he's more proud than jealous. "I just kind of wish that I had the opportunity to play for a national title or a Rose Bowl.
"I just never got the opportunity to win the Big Ten title. We made it my sophomore year, but we ended up losing to Russell Wilson (and Wisconsin). So, I'm glad for those guys that they're able to win and go to the Rose Bowl and big type of bowl games and win those bowl games, not just get there but actually win them and making us look like an elite program."
The running back who filled Bell's shoes, Jeremy Langford, just finished his senior season and will try to follow in Bell's footsteps in the NFL. Bell knows Langford well because they were in the same recruiting class, and he thinks Langford could have success as a professional, too.
"I like Jeremy," Bell said. "I know the way he runs. I know that his style will fit in this league. He's just got to find a way to be more consistent because it's going to be hard to be consistent in the league. You've got to find that edge.
"It may take him a year or two. It took me a year to find that edge. When he finds that edge, I think he's going to be a great player."