The Hillsborough Terriers have had a tradition of great skill players, and 2016 is no different. USF commit Duran Bell is a fantastic athlete, whether it be on the field or on the track, and he’s ready for a huge senior season. BCP caught up with Bell for a two-part series about Bell’s commitment to staying healthy after an injury derailed him last season and all about his love for Hillsborough High.
Hillsborough RB Duran Bell is ready for a big year for the Terriers in 2016.
Obviously, some issues that kept you off the field in staying healthy last year, how do you feel about yourself right now?
DB: “I feel way, way better than I did than this time last year. I didn’t even make it through last year’s first game. I’ve prepared myself to make sure I get rid of those ankle injuries. I was really grateful to get myself through that first game.”
What’s the biggest thing that you have to do to keep yourself healthy?
DB: “Mainly, I’ve been working on my lower body this summer. That was where the issues were last year, so I’m just trying to keep it as strong as possible. If I keep the lower body healthy, I’ll have a really good season. I haven’t been doing as much upper body as I’ve liked to do, but I still feel pretty good.”
USF, a team on the rise, is not just going to take anyone to play a skill position, especially at S or RB, especially after the quality guys in Jamie Byrd and Marlon Mack. What do you think set you apart from the other guys they liked?
DB: Track season. Track season really set me apart. When you’ve been working as hard as I was and running a 47.6 400-meter on the track, colleges are going to see that, and that set me apart. Especially as a running back, USF saw that I could run with speed, stamina, and strength. That’s ultimately what they’re looking for in a running back.
You play for a team with 100-plus years of tradition. First off, what does that feel like?
DB: “It’s hard to answer that question. It’s an amazing feeling. It’s amazing to keep that tradition of the many generations before me going.”
What does it mean for you that you get to call yourself a Hillsborough Terrier?
DB: “It’s awesome. My dad’s five brothers went to Hillsborough, and my dad went to Hillsborough (for a little bit before he went to Brandon). It’s a great feeling to keep the family tradition. We were all on the field providing providing for our teams.”
Hillsborough High is known for it’s beautiful architecture, it’s IB program, and a few other things outside of football. Outside of football, what is your favorite thing about Hillsborough?
DB: “I love the people at Hillsborough; the staff, the faculty. They not only love football, they love being in the school period. It’s a great community.”
What legacy and what tradition are you trying to leave in your senior year?
DB: “Don’t be afraid to be the person to be all ‘ra-ra’ person. Be yourself, be a leader by example, start providing, the team will start following behind you, they’ll want to be around you. This past Friday night, we were getting stuffed by Durant, then the O-Line got a good block, I ran the ball and got the score. It got the crowd roaring, and all that energy fell down onto the entire team. By then, nobody can stop that energy with the team, nobody can get rid of the confidence that we’ve got going.”
Give me the feeling you experience when you look at your name at your locker one last time, huddle at the field-house door, hit the “play like a champion today” banner, exit the field-house and run onto the field at Chelo Huertas. Describe the energy you feel.
DB: “I’m really a ‘calm mad’ person. While I’m in those last 5-10 minutes before the game, I’m calm on the outside. Focused. But on the inside, I’m going wild, you know, it’s my last year, with all of my brothers around you, I’ve got all that adrenaline inside of me. It’s a calm before the storm feeling, like, ‘I’m calm in the locker room, but you better watch out on the field.’”