Bell Coming On Strong For Tigers

True freshman Tony Bell talks about getting his feet wet in big-time college football.

Auburn, Ala.–-One of the most impressive true freshmen for the Auburn Tigers this season has been safety Tony Bell from Thompson High in Alabaster.

An imposing figure on the field at 6-3 and just over 200 pounds, Bell has been a fast-riser in the secondary, earning high praise from Coach Gene Chizik for his play in the first two games.

Although he has seen limited action in defensive situations because of the depth at safety with both Will Herring and Eric Brock at free safety, Bell has excelled on special teams. Earning the player of the week for special teams after making the tackle on three kickoffs, Bell is currently second on Auburn's team in total tackles with seven and has a recovered fumble to his credit as well. All in a day's work, he notes.

"You put me on the field I'm going to try to do something," Bell says. "I'm going to give it all I've got in whatever I do, whether it be on punts, punt returns, kickoffs or defense. I'm going to give it my hardest, my best because I try to excel at anything I do."

Tony Bell is off to a solid start as a true freshman.

After playing linebacker as a senior, Bell was recruited as a safety by Auburn and dozens of other schools. His natural position, safety allows him to roam the field and use his instincts and ability to cover the pass to his advantage. He notes that he's feeling more comfortable in Auburn's defense after getting a lot of work during two-a-days and early in the season.

"In practice situations I feel really good and I know I can do it," Bell says. "In games I think I have to get adjusted a little more to that and the adrenaline. That's something you have to adjust to, but I'm getting better and better everyday. I try to come and meet with the graduate assistants a couple of times a week to learn even more."

Knowledge of the game is always a problem for a true freshman and Bell is no different. A football junkie who loves to play the game, Bell says that Chizik has told him on several occasions that the more he learns about the defense the more action he'll see on the field.

"He's said some comments to me that I really need to learn it so I can play," Bell notes. "He really wants me to learn everything. I know with me not knowing everything it's hard for him to put me on the field because if you make one wrong move in college football that can get you. I'm going to try to get as much knowledge about our defense as possible."

The speed of the game is something older players talk about as being completely different from their days in high school. Bell says that is yet another thing that has been tough to get used to, but a different attitude in practice on game weeks has gotten the attention of the younger players on Auburn's team this season.

"I kind of sensed that the first game week against Louisiana-Monroe," Bell says. "It's a whole different attitude about everybody. Not only the coaches, but the players also. I adjusted to it pretty quick."

With the uncertainty of the weather for Saturday's 2:30 p.m. kickoff with LSU because of Hurricane Ivan, the practice schedule, class schedule and entire routine for Auburn has been affected this week. Despite the constant distractions, Bell says this team is focused on one single goal this week and nothing is going to change that before Saturday.

"It's kind of like Coach Tuberville said, we're playing against ourselves," Bell says. "This is probably another task that we've got to overcome. I'm sure we can do it. With school being out we're going to have a lot more time to concentrate on LSU, just them. That's a good thing in some ways."

Making his final decision to attend Auburn over LSU, Bell is very familiar with both programs and coaching staffs. That makes this game take on even more meaning for the freshman who says that he's anxious to play against the Bengal Tigers.

"It really means a lot to me," Bell says. "I probably won't get a lot of playing time, but it does mean a lot to me for some reason. I chose Auburn over that school for a number of reasons. If we beat them that's going to be nice."


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