One year removed from injury, Maurice Bell ready to finally make mark with CU Buffs – The Denver Post

One year removed from injury, Maurice Bell ready to finally make mark with CU Buffs – The Denver Post

As soon as Maurice Bell felt the pop that altered the course of his football career, he of course crumpled to the turf.

When he looked up with his pain-riddled eyes between wincing, he couldn’t have met a more sympathetic figure.

It was about one year ago that Bell suffered a torn left Achilles tendon, ending the 2021 campaign for the Colorado receiver during the preseason. Bell wasn’t the only person who heard the wrenching pop when his tendon collapsed, as now-former CU linebacker Nate Landman was the closest player to Bell on the practice field when he collapsed.

Landman heard the pop, too, and he knew exactly what it meant. Landman suffered a similar injury about nine months earlier at the end of the 2020 season. At that point, Landman was just a few weeks away from his return to CU’s starting lineup. No one on that practice field understood Bell’s sudden agony more than the person closest to the action.

“Nate was coming off of his, and he was literally right in front of me when I did it,” Bell said. “I planted off the line and I felt the snap, heard the snap. He was like, ‘Ooo, I heard that snap.’ We kind of just knew it automatically. I didn’t want to believe it at first. But once I got down to the training room we knew what it is. A ruptured Achilles.”

As the Buffs continue to move closer to their 2022 season opener Sept. 2 at home against TCU, Bell is back in the mix hoping to make a mark in his final season as part of CU’s receiver rotation. That never is an easy task after an injury of Bell’s magnitude. Yet he watched Landman do it a year ago and hopes to forge a similar trail.

Bell arrived at CU in 2017 as the No. 8 receiver prospect that year in California (by Scout.com) and redshirted as a rookie. In the seasons since Bell has shown flashes, but struggled to become a regular part of the rotation. Bell appeared on the cusp of breaking through during the shortened 2020 season, making two starts and finishing with nine receptions for 89 yards and one touchdown. Last year’s injury derailed that progress, but head coach Karl Dorrell said Bell is starting to round into form.

Bell has maintained a commendable big-picture view of his situation, and after losing two of the top three contributors at receiver to the transfer portal (Brenden Rice, Dmitri Stanley), CU is in need of veterans to step up. Had Bell broken through last year, he admits he may not have bothered with taking advantage of the pandemic-spurred extra season of eligibility. Yet sometimes things happen for a reason, and due to last year’s injury, Bell may have a chance to make his mark in a season in which the Buffs expect much-improved play at quarterback.

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“Really, the toughest part was just sitting out and having to watch,” Bell said. “Being out and not being able to play, I’ve played all my life. Not being active and not really being able to walk was the toughest part. Once I started getting back on my feet I just focused on my recovery and getting back.

“I think a lot of guys are honing in on more of the details, and you can actually see it coming out on the field. You can see it translate from the meeting room to the field. You can definitely see a difference. I’m ready to shock the world, me and my teammates. I’m ready to prove everybody wrong and get out there and show my ability.”

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