EAST LANSING, Mich. - Two years ago against Notre Dame, Le'Veon Bell was on the ground, confused.
Three games into his Michigan State career, the then-freshman running back thought he had blown the biggest play of the Spartans season. The now infamous "Little Giants" trick play was called against the Irish, and Bell was in on the secret.
"I was supposed to get the ball. I got it every day in practice. I'm thinking I'm gonna get it in the game, a freshman scoring a game winning touchdown, but everything didn't work out that way," he says.
That darn Charlie Gantt.
Nowadays, there is no question when Bell's number is called. He has been the Spartans main horse on offense this season, scoring four touchdowns and rushing for 280 yards in the team's first two games. His breakout performance against Boise State in the season opener slingshot him into the Heisman Trophy conversation.
His instant shot of fame has also been cause for attention on campus, from Michigan State students.
"In the beginning of class, they were asking for autographs, a couple pictures."
As of now, he won't be utilizing any of his offensive lineman for protection during the week - just on game day.
"No, I don't need a bodyguard. It's crazy, though, being noticed on campus. It's a great feeling," he says with a laugh.
Anyone looking for a picture of the Spartans junior running back will have a chance Saturday night when No. 10 Michigan State plays host to the 20th ranked Irish.
Bell says he is anxious for kickoff, but has learned over the years to temper his excitement. He turns to music, with artists like Drake, Wale, and The Weeknd, to "soothing" him on his iPod. When the lights go on, he'll face a Notre Dame defense known for its physicality.
"Those guys are gonna be bigger, they're gonna be faster. We gotta get adjusted to that. Football is a fun game, I learned to enjoy it."
The test of facing Notre Dame, along with the national audience watching Saturday night, gives Bell another chance to cement his status as a premiere runner. He doesn't shy away from the challenge.
"I definitely have goals. However many times I need to carry the ball, however many times I need to block, I just want to do whatever I can to help us win games. That's all I want to do."
Two years ago, Le'Veon Bell was supposed to be the hero. He has waited his turn, and now he's getting his fair share of attention.
Brad Galli is a Sports Reporter at WXYZ Detroit. Follow Brad on Twitter @BradGalli .
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