TERRE HAUTE —
The career of running back Shakir Bell, one of the best football players in Indiana State’s history, came to a premature end Tuesday, Oct. 22.
How the end came depended on who was doing the talking, or as the case was, tweeting.
On his personal Twitter account, Bell said early Tuesday afternoon that he was dismissed from ISU’s team.
The tweets were on Bell’s personal account for about two hours. Bell later removed them, but not before his tweets had got out to local, state and national media.
“1st of all thanks 2 every sycamore I’ve played with & every coach that has helped my career, it kills me to I will no longer be on the team.”
“My dismissal from the team comes with no hard feelings & I realize this will have a negative outlook on me but if anyone has questions hml [hit my line].”
“Thank you everyone and I appreciate all the support and ik [I know] that it’s in Gods hands and everything happens for a reason.”
Prior to ISU’s Tuesday practice, ISU coach Mike Sanford was asked about Bell’s situation.
“Here’s all I’m going to say. Shakir had an injury to his foot earlier in the year [at Tennessee Tech]. He re-injured it Saturday [at Illinois State]. He’s unavailable for the rest of the season,” Sanford said.
Bell left last Saturday’s Illinois State game with 14:45 left in the third quarter when he re-aggravated an injury to his right foot he originally suffered in a game at Tennessee Tech on Sept. 28.
Sanford was asked if Bell’s original characterization of the situation — that he was dismissed from the team — is inaccurate.
“All I’m saying is what I’m saying. He injured his foot earlier in the year — a serious injury — he re-injured it Saturday and is unavailable for the rest of the season,” Sanford said.
Sanford said Bell’s unavailability extended to being at practice. Sanford also declined comment as to whether any other ISU players were suspended or dismissed.
Reached via text Tuesday night, Bell said he did not have a comment on the situation at this time.
Bell’s last season with the Sycamores was star-crossed. Bell had earlier suffered a separated shoulder against Indiana on Aug. 29 that caused him to miss games against Purdue and Quincy. He returned against Tennessee Tech on Sept. 28, and had a season-best 201-yard rushing effort, but he also injured his toe on his right foot.
Bell could only play two series against Youngstown State on Oct. 7 before the injury knocked him out of the game. Bell returned and played the entire game at South Dakota on Oct. 14.
Bell, who had his first healthy week of practice last week, had just nine rushing yards on 12 carries against the Redbirds before he exited the game.
Bell rushed for 420 yards and had 12 catches for 94 yards in 2013. He scored two touchdowns.
“Shakir is a great player. It’s tough to hear from the training staff he won’t be able to play anymore this year. It’s tough for him. I want to keep my thoughts and prayers out for him,” said ISU quarterback Mike Perish, who is himself injured with a sprained MCL in his right knee.
The ill-fated 2013 season was in sharp contrast to the 2010 to 2012 salad days when Bell was not only ISU’s best player, but one of the best in the nation.
Bell, an Indianpolis native and Parade All-American at Warren Central High School, was the 2011 Missouri Valley Football Conference Offensive Player of the Year and finished in the top 3 for the 2011 Walter Payton Award, the highest honor a Football Championship Subdivision player can earn. He rushed for a career-high 1,670 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2011.
Bell set the ISU and MVFC single-game rushing record with 349 yards against Drake on Sept. 15, 2012. It was the highest single-game total recorded in all of Division I in 2012.
Bell rushed for 4,214 career rushing yards, second-best in ISU history, and just 121 yards behind ISU record-holder Vincent Allen. Bell was 532 yards shy of the all-time MVFC rushing mark, set by former Western Illinois running back Herb Donaldson.
Bell scored 30 career touchdowns, three shy of the school record of 33.
“It’s a bad deal, but we have to keep grinding. We’re thankful for all he’s done,” said ISU center FN Lutz, who blocked for Bell for his entire career. “He put a lot of time in and he’s done a lot for us. That’s tough [that he can’t see it out].”