RECRUITING: Chris Bell Just Wants To Feel The Love

Chris Bell saw the University of Florida campus in a way that few ever get to see it Saturday night. He was the passenger on the back of Nyan Boateng's moped as they did the full campus tour after during his official visit to Gainesville.

(See Chris Bell profile)

It was quite a night for the five star (by wide receiver from Norfolk (Va) Granby wide receiver. He got to see the Florida Gators dispose of Tennessee, 16-7, before a thunderous crowd of 90,716 at The Swamp and then afterwards the fifth-ranked wide receiver in the nation was seeing things you can only see from the back of a moped.

"Overall it was a great visit," Bell said. "I had fun with the coaches … Coach Meyer and Coach Gonzales … and fun with my host, Nyan Boateng. I love the campus. I love the atmosphere. I loved it all. Nyan had me on a little moped showing me around. It was like two great big black guys on a little bicycle."

He had a great time hanging with Boateng but what he saw at the stadium is what really interested him. He saw the capabilities of the Florida offense and he understands how a wide receiver with his size, speed and talent could fit in.

"I really liked it and enjoyed it [the game] a lot," he said. "I am a fan of the offense. I really like the offense of the Gators. I like the five-receiver spread and like how they share the ball. I see myself playing in the slot or outside."

Because it was a bye week for Granby's football team, Bell was able to start his visit on Friday night. He was one of the first visitors to arrive in Gainesville on a weekend in which 70 of the top recruits in the nation showed up for the game. By getting there early, he got to visit with the coaching staff the night before a game to see how they get the team ready emotionally.

On Saturday, he got to see how the staff and team get ready on game day as well as absorb the atmosphere, which by game time was electric. The Swamp was rocking Saturday night so he knows the kind of ovation he could expect if he ever made a great play or scored a touchdown for the Gators. He also got a feel for Gainesville after dark although it was quite the different tour with Boateng showing him around on the moped. Sunday morning he was in the football offices. "I sat down with Coach Gonzalez, Jevan Snead (Florida commitment, quarterback from Stephenville, TX) and David Nelson (freshman wide receiver from Wichita Falls, TX)," he said. "We went to a restaurant and ate (lunch). I got to meet Mrs. (Shelley) Meyer. She is a nice lady from what I know of her.

During the one-on-one time he listed as Florida's coaches detailed how he would fit into the spread option offense. Bell admitted that he likes the Gators a lot but he has a strong need to know that Florida likes him as much as he likes the Gators. Bell is a prototype receiver for this offense at 6-3, 205, with size, speed and great strength.

There were several other highly rated wide receivers on the Florida campus over the weekend and each of them needed the time with the Gator coaching staff as well. Bell knew he was sharing time with the staff but he wants the Florida coaches to show him the love. He made it clear that he'll go to the school that shows they want and need him the most. In addition to Florida, he has Penn State, LSU and Virginia on his list.

"I have the feeling that they [Florida] want me, but I don't have the feeling I am the number one pick," he said. "It's the difference between someone wanting you and someone really, really wanting you to go to their school.

"They tell me I will play but that isn't what I want to hear. To me, it means if someone gets hurt then I may play but maybe not even then. There is no guarantee I will see the field at any time. The other schools are telling me I will start. I want to hear I will get some starting time."

Bell isn't afraid of competition. That seems more of an expected formality than anything else. He simply wants to be reassured that he is a very important recruit, the kind that can be a difference maker wherever he goes. He believes he can compete with any receiver on the Florida roster already or any the Gators choose to sign.

"I don't think I will have any problem with beating anyone out," Bell said. "The only problem I would have is knowing the plays because I would be a freshman. As far as my size and speed, I think I can beat everyone out. I am very aggressive, so I don't think that would be much of a problem."

Size, speed, and aggressiveness are the exact traits that the Gator staff wants in a wide receiver. The receivers in the Gator offense are asked to do so many things and having the size and strength to block or catch the ball over the middle makes Bell a very high priority indeed.

Bell came to Gainesville with his parents. They came away from the Florida visit impressed and Bell noted that one parent, in particular, has to be impressed or nobody is impressed.

"They really like Florida," he said. "They like the attention and the thought that the coaches really have a hands-on grasp of their players and they care about their education and not just about football. My dad doesn't really care where I go as long as I get my education. It's my mom they have to convince. I tell all the coaches it isn't me you have to sell … I can go anywhere and play football and function. You have to reassure my mother that you have to take care of me while I am there so she isn't worrying herself to death."

Reassurances about starting right away aside, Bell still has one leader in mind. He liked the trip to Gainesville and he likes the coaching staff even though they were forced to show a lot of love to a lot of receivers over the weekend. The style of play is what attracts him the most.

"Right now because of their offense and I am a guy that likes to have the ball, (Florida is) number one," Bell said. "If I felt like they really needed me, I guess I would commit to them."

He is very non-committal about any other school at the moment. The Gators seem to be at the forefront of his mind and the other schools offenses don't appeal to him as much.

"I haven't been on any other visits, so I can't really say anything about (the other schools)," he said. "They are all even I guess."

Chris Bell is an outstanding wide receiver prospect who is one of the most talented high school football players in the nation. He knows he can play wherever he chooses to attend school but whoever lands this big time talent is going to have to show some love. He just wants to feel needed, that's all.

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