An experienced player that has seen action at both safety and cornerback in his career, Bell has worked through a coaching change and also the rigors of learning a new defense in his time on the Plains.
Because of that Bell said he knew just how important the summer voluntary workouts would be for this team heading into the new season. Having just a few months to pick up as much of new defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder's schemes as possible on their own, Bell said things couldn't have gone much better for the Tigers as they put in a great deal of hard work to get ready.
"It was real big," Bell said. "We needed it. I think the captain's practices gave us an advantage. I won't say we'll be ahead, but we'll be ahead of where the coaches expect us at this point. They were the best we've had since I've been here for sure. They were productive day in and day out. It was a big summer for us offensively and defensively. The offense got a lot done too. It's going to be an exciting fall camp."
Having been through the summer four times already at Auburn and seen veterans come and go, Bell said that the discipline by the leaders on this team and the understanding of the younger players made the difference this summer and also made the 2012 workouts the best he's seen.
"It was just the leadership and the guys that were willing to follow the leaders," Bell said. "You didn't have guys talking back saying ‘how are you going to tell me to do something you're not doing'. Guys are shutting up and getting the work done. There was no bickering back and forth. We've got leaders and they are following them.
"It was definitely better than last year, not that we had a lot of discrepancy last year, but there is no gray area and everybody is clear on what we need to do."
With a much larger group of upperclassmen on the team this season it should bring a more confident group of players to the field each week because of that experience and maturity. Bell said it's something he's noticed already this summer and he believes it will be a key to having a successful 2012.
"Everybody knows what to expect now," Bell said. "When you've got young guys, whether they are freshmen or sophomores, their head is still kind of spinning. Now that there are more juniors and seniors there is more of a foundation. Guys aren't looking around they are saying ‘follow me.' "
Auburn will hit the field Tuesday at 3:50 for the first preseason practice for the 2012 season.