At Wednesday's practice, the 6-2, 218-pounder had his full pads on participating in Auburn's 11th spring practice session after missing the previous 10.
Bell played last fall in reserve duty and on kicking teams as a true freshman. He was considered one of the favorites to take over the vacant starting spot where Junior Rosegreen played so well last fall. However, Tuberville made the call to send Bell to study hall with tutors on practice days until the defensive back caught up with his academic work.
Tony Bell is shown in a 2004 scrimmage.
The defensive back says he is back on schedule academically and notes that the shot over the bow got his attention. "It makes you want to work harder to get back out there," Bell says. "You realize football means a lot when you are out for two or three weeks."
Although he was able to take part in some of the off the field meetings with new defensive coordinator and secondary coach David Gibbs, Bell admits the time away from practice has put him behind. "I am behind on a lot of stuff," he says.
"It was a real hard lesson," adds Bell, who notes he will have to try to catch up on the field when two-a-day practices start in August.
Bell is also working at free safety where Will Herring is the returning starter. He says it doesn't matter which position he plays. "I am playing both free and strong--mainly free."
Gibbs says it is too early to make much of a judgement on how Bell will fit in with the 2005 defense. "He was out there running around," Gibbs says. "He is a big, fast strong kid who will hit you. We are just keep going to keep working him.
"Hopefully, he will take care of school work," Gibbs adds. "If he does he will be out there, if he messes up he will be back in study hall. It's up to him. We'll see. We have a long way to go before we play ball.
"We just wanted to get him out there and let him run around a bit to get a chance to evaluate him. I am hoping after five days, hoping he doesn't mess up in school between now and then, that we will have a general idea of which way we will go with him."