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YSU’s Bellamy: ‘I never wanted to be average’
When standout running back Adaris Bellamy signed with Youngstown State in late February, he opened eyes by saying he hopes to win the Walter Payton Award, given annually to the best player at the FCS level.
He hasn’t backed down since.
“I never wanted to just come in and be average or just something that people expected of me,” said Bellamy. “I always wanted to go above what I knew I can be.
“Me setting my sights on the Walter Payton award, it’s just a goal. And a goal without a plan is just a wish.”
After a standout career at Dunedin (Fla.) High, Bellamy signed with South Florida but saw his college career derailed by academic problems. He spent this year at Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy, where he got his academics — and his life — in order, he said.
“I learned a lot,” said Bellamy, who was at Fork Union at the same time as former Ursuline standout Jamel Turner but said he didn’t know him well. “I went in there thinking I was everything, but the playing level there was basically equal to mine and nobody really stood out from anyone, so it really taught me to be humble as far as playing aspects and as far as my attitude.
“Their whole military environment taught me how to tone that down and really be less aggressive than I was back then. They really taught me a lot about life.”
After raising his test scores and grade point average last fall, Bellamy was cleared by the NCAA but was told by South Florida there were no scholarships available. Although he had plenty of Division I options, YSU’s coaching staff (including former USF defensive coordinator Rick Kravitz) convinced him to head north.
One of Bellamy’s family members, defensive lineman Joe Marshall, has been with the Penguins since 2008 and former teammate Ali Cheaib, a linebacker, was part of Eric Wolford’s first recruiting class in February.
“That’s what sold me on [YSU],” he said. “And when I talked to the coaches, they were all down to earth and treated me like family. They called my mom and treated her like family.
“I was always growing up thinking about D-I-As. I never thought about a Division I-AA program so I didn’t know anything about the institution or about the football program before my relatives and friends started telling me about the opportunity here and the new coaches.”
Bellamy (5-foot-9, 214 pounds) was ranked as the 43rd best running back prospect by ESPN and 73rd by Scout.com. Rivals.com rated him the 46th best prospect in the state. Rivals also named him as the second-best inside runner of any back in the 2010 class and compared him to former Michigan standout Mike Hart.
He rushed for 1,950 yards and 22 touchdowns during his junior season, garnering class 5A all-state, first team all-county and second team All-Sun Coast honors.
“I have different styles,” he said. “I can be a power back if you want me to, I can be a scatback if you want me to.
“I basically can do anything you want me to do, it just depends on what type of play it is and what type of situation we’re in.”
Bellamy, who is now on campus, has been impressed with YSU’s tradition and facilities and said he’s happy to again be a part of a team.
“My excitement level has been pretty big since I signed the papers,” he said. “On a scale to 100, it’s probably 99.9 right now.
“It’ll probably go to 120 when I suit up.”