YSU’s Adaris Bellamy hopes to finally become
the player a big freshman year hinted he might
By Joe Scalzo
He’s lost weight and gained perspective. He’s made some big changes — becoming a pescetarian, for instance — and a lot of little ones. He’s a former hotshot recruit who is trying to shed his past baggage in the same way he shed his knee brace.
He’s Adaris Bellamy, a running back who made the Missouri Valley’s all-newcomer team as a freshman but could have spent the last two years on its all-afterthought team.
“Coach [Eric Wolford] always talks about how when you do the same thing expecting different results, you’re just practicing insanity,” Bellamy said. “That just stuck in my head. Everything I did before, I got the same results.
“I figured if I change it, I could get in the game more and build a better relationship with my coaches and my team. And I felt like changing would make me grow as a person on the field and in life.”
Bellamy originally signed with South Florida coming out of high school, then spent a year at Fork Union Military Academy to get his grades up. After South Florida yanked his scholarship, he signed with YSU in 2010 and told his high school coach he wanted to win the Walter Payton Award, given annually to the FCS’ top player.
But after rushing for 545 yards and 11 TDs his first season behind starter Jamaine Cook, he lost his backup job to Jordan Thompson as a sophomore. He then injured his knee late in the year, missed last year’s spring practice and was never quite right last fall.
“As a running back, a big part of your game is your knees,” Bellamy said. “Last fall, I don’t think I was comfortable at all. I think I was avoiding contact. I wasn’t driving my feet through contact. Now I think I can do everything I did my freshman and sophomore year.”
Bellamy became a pescetarian last November, adopting a diet that eliminates red meat and poultry (but keeps seafood) while emphasizing vegetarian foods. It’s helped him shed 13 pounds — he’s down to 207 — and regain his speed and explosiveness.
“Red meat, it’s been proven that it’s not good for you,” he said. “It’s just our society that craves it. I was never a big meat eater anyway, so it was easy to cut out. I just quit cold turkey. It didn’t take a process.”
For all of Cook’s production the past three years, his playing time was built as much on trust and effort as talent. Wolford didn’t see the same commitment from Bellamy (“He needed to grow up,” Wolford said), Thompson (who was booted from the team last year because of academic issues) or Torrian Pace (“When I first got here, I told Torrian I didn’t think he worked very hard,” Wolford said).
Wolford refused to give Bellamy any wiggle room — “I made him an example of how we want to do things in a specific manner,” he said — and Bellamy has responded by taking the game more seriously.
Bellamy praises his fellow running backs — “We have great backs here and we all help each other,” he said — while striking the right balance between humility and confidence.
“With Cook gone, we all expect to get that starting job,” he said. “We’re not waiting for the coaches to hand us anything, we’re all looking to take it.”
He also has strong praise for new running backs coach Eric Gallon, who was Wolford’s teammate at Kansas State and got a brief tryout with the New England Patriots. Unlike former Louis Matsakis, who was a punter at Emporia State, Gallon has played the position, which makes a big difference, Bellamy said.
“It’s kind of different taking advice from him; he knows what we see,” Bellamy said. “It’s not like a quarterback coach telling a running back what to do.
“He’s amazing as a coach and as a person. From his first day, he’s opened up my eyes.”
Over the next few months, Bellamy wants to do the same thing.