August 9, 2010

CMU senior linebacker Nick Bellore leads the defense

The face of Central Michigan football now has a beard. Senior linebacker Nick Bellore has started 41 straight games for the Chippewas and he becomes the team's most recognizable player after Dan LeFevour, Antonio Brown and Bryan Anderson departed for the NFL.

Bellore has tallied 382 tackles in his career and is 108 tackles shy of the school record set by Brian Leigeb (490 from 1997-2000). He has been named to the preseason Nagurski and Lombardi watch lists and will anchor a CMU defense considered to be the strength of the 2010 team. Bellore has prepared all off season for his senior campaign, and opposing offenses better buckle their chinstraps.

"I think it's gone really well," said Bellore on the team's offseason. "We've had guys gaining weight that needed to gain weight, obviously we have Rocky Weaver, Jake Olson and Eric Fisher, and I think they've put on something like 20 pounds a piece. I think it will be a completely new look and as a team I think we did really well in OTA's and stuff."

As a senior, Bellore will become one of the team's primary leaders and he is more than ready to take that challenge on.

"You know, it's just kind of what the seniors and I have been doing for a couple of years now. The only thing that really ramps it up is that there is no one else to look to, it's kind of just us," said Bellore. "It's up to us and not anybody else to decide whether we want to be good or not, so we can kind of steer the direction in one of two ways. It's a little more added pressure, but something we're ready to do."

With so much firepower leaving the offense and head coach Dan Enos bringing in a new scheme, much of the attention on the program has been focused on the offense, and rightfully so. But defensively the Chippewas lose some key starters and while the core is still intact, some holes will need to be filled for CMU to stay stingy on defense.

"We definitely have things we need to correct if we want to play good defense, your always going to have kind of weaker points and we just need to find young guys, and sometimes older guys, who haven't played as much to step up. If those guys play well, then we'll do well, if they don't, then we don't play well. It's kind of up to a couple for the success of the whole thing."

And Bellore shared what players he thinks can fill those holes.

"I think Jahleel Addae had a great spring, I really think he can be a good player. LaVarus William is starting to come back from his knee injury and really hit full stride. You got guys like Lorenzo White who did a great job during the spring. Anthony Hollis the JUCO kid we got can really play and I think he can play right away for us, which is obviously what you want from a junior college kid, but I think he can be a really talented and special player."

Two positions that do not need to be filled are middle linebacker and strong side linebacker. Those two spots are filled by two seniors in Bellore and Matt Berning, and the two are often referred to as the "Killer B's" for their destruction of opposing offenses.

"Yeah, we get a kick out of it, we'll see a poster or whatever," laughed Bellore. "It really helps having someone next to you that you trust and Matt and I are great friends, and I really think that it's a cool thing to share and I think the relationship we have on the field really helps us because we can trust where each other will be."

While those two are definite starters come the season opener, they lose their third "Killer B" partner in Tim Brazzel ,who exhausted his eligibility. CMU has recruited well at the linebacker position in recent years and the influx of talent has created quite the competition for the third backer spot.

"You know it's going to be kind of a wild competition," added Bellore. "We have probably three or four guys who can play it and it's just a matter of who's the most consistent and who is playing the best when we're out here in camp in the tough times. But you have Armond Staten, Shamari Benton, Kyle Zelinsky, Alex Smith and Nores Fradi, that's another guy that's impressed me and a guy I think can play right away."

Bellore and the Chippewas will go full pads for the first time in camp tomorrow and you can be sure that the Chippewas talented middle linebacker will be in the middle of things.

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