November 17, 2010

Bell's return big for Bucks

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Dorian Bell isn't the fastest player on the Ohio State's football team's kickoff coverage unit. He probably isn't the most agile player in that group, either.

But despite those two facts, Bell is usually one thing when the kickoff coverage unit is sprinting down field in effort to bring the opposing team's return man down - first.

"I just want to make a play," Bell said. "Being down there first helps me do that."

The Buckeyes hadn't had the pleasure of seeing Bell sprint down field with the rest of the kickoff coverage unit for weeks given the redshirt freshman linebacker had already sustained two concussions on the season, most recently against Indiana on Oct. 9.

Though it may not all be attributed to Bell's absence, Ohio State had struggled mightily in the time since on its kickoff coverage, most notably when allowing Wisconsin to return the opening kickoff for the touchdown en route to handing the Buckeyes (9-1, 5-1) their lone loss of the season.

Sustaining two concussions in the same season could be protocol for a player to miss the remainder of the season, but Bell was tested during Ohio State's bye week last week and was cleared to play.

Bell was ready when he got on the field against Penn State Saturday for the first time.

"When the first kickoff happened, I just wanted to come back stronger, better, and more focused," Bell said. "Just being on the field uplifts me. The excitement, the fans. I don't get on the field much, but I love it."

With Bell back in the lineup, Ohio State didn't allow Penn State to return a kickoff more than 26 yards the entire night.

Bell, who forced a fumble on the opening kickoff in Ohio State's season-opening win against Marshall, had another big tackle inside the 20 against the Nittany Lions. Ohio State ended up knocking off Penn State 38-14.

"It was a great feeling to be back out there with my teammates, my family," Bell said. "I missed them with the Wisconsin game and everything. I really missed being out there with them."

With Ohio State being cautious with Bell's head injury, the linebacker wasn't able to work out or participate in practice for over a month while recovering from the concussions.

"The time sitting out was horrible," Bell said. "When I did tests again and they told me I was good and I got to practice, it uplifted me and helped me because I was excited to help out the kickoff team."

Bell said he isn't more prone to further head injuries and he has been coached by the Ohio State staff to keep his head forward and on a swivel when on the field.

The injury was sustained because Bell was on the receiving end of a blow to the side of his head, having a direct impact on his temple.

"I turned my head the wrong way and it hit the sit of my temple," Bell said. "I need to keep my face square and hit with my facemask, not the sides and I'll be fine. I just basically need to keep my eyes forward."

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