The last time Kenny Bell was in Death Valley at night was for an Alabama-LSU game when he was being recruited by both schools in 2008.
A Louisiana native (Rayville, La.), Bell ultimately chose to play for the Crimson Tide because he wanted to go out-of-state for college and "meet new people and try new sights," he said this week.
And he's done just that in his time at Alabama. This season, the junior wide receiver has become A.J. McCarron's go-to deep threat because of his speed and separation skills. Last week against Mississippi State, Bell caught a beautiful rainbow of a pass for a 57-yard touchdown in the first quarter that gave the Tide a 14-0 lead.
Bell is second on the team behind freshman Amari Cooper with 309 receiving yards and three touchdowns, all of which have been long, explosive plays—an 85-yard touchdown against Florida Atlantic and a 39-yard score against Tennessee (in addition to last week's play against MSU).
Playing on the road at LSU is special for Bell because it's like a homecoming game. He said that anytime he goes back to his home state, he has to wade through and brush off jokes about playing for the Tide instead of the Tigers.
"They still come at me, ‘You should've went to LSU, you should've went to LSU,'" he said, smiling. "But it's all love at the end of the day."
Depending on what happens at Tiger Stadium Saturday night, Bell might not be feeling the Louisiana love for awhile. But several of his teammates will be in the same boat. Running back Eddie Lacy (Geismar), who has rushed for 596 yards and seven touchdown this season, linebacker Denzel Devall (Bastrop), who as a true freshman has already recorded two sacks, and safety Landon Collins (Geismar) and cornerback Bradley Sylve (Port Sulphur), who have both made contributions so far this season, are all from Louisiana.
Alabama's Nick Saban has some Louisiana roots, too, as he spent 2000-04 as the head coach at LSU. Earlier this week, he was asked to recall some of those memories.
"We had a great experience with our time there," he said. "Fans were very supportive. They've got a lot of passion, a lot of pride. It's their state school. I certainly appreciate the support we had when we were there in terms of what we were able to accomplish. It was very special for the Saban family.
"I think the thing I remember the most is we have a lot of great relationships and friendships with people in Louisiana because of that."
But those close relationships—for Saban and for his Louisiana player—might be put on hold for the next 24 hours or so.
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