Beaverton, Ore. -- When the recruiting process first began for Markquese Bell, the word on the Bridgeton (N.J.) High star was that proximity to home would be an overriding factor in his recruitment. Some Garden State observers opined that Rutgers would be tough to beat for that very reason. Their rationale for making that call was actually pretty sound.
That was then and this is now.
"Not anymore,” Bell replied when asked whether distance is one of his primary considerations. “(Not) after I've seen a lot of schools that are far away but aren’t that far away when you think about it."
"(Being away from home) is not hard… not hard at all. I've been waiting to get away from home a little, trying to get away for a little bit."
That new sentiment is unquestionably music to the ears of suitors that have been working hard to increase his comfort level outside of New Jersey. Michigan is among those that have been putting forth tremendous effort on that front. The Wolverines most effective tool date was a memorable visit to Ann Arbor for the annual spring game last April.
"It was a great experience,” Bell said. “It was the first big school I'd been to and I'd stayed more than one day at. So that really helped a lot. To be there with a lot of Jersey recruits and Jersey commits, it opened my eyes. I feel like I can relate to a lot of guys that are on campus."
He also came away with a better feel for the coaching staff, especially the two with strong northeast ties.
"(Chris Partridge) is a great guy,” said Bell. “He's always got a joke to say about every little thing."
"(Don Brown) is really a down to earth guy, pretty cool, talking about regular stuff."
Michigan has been in strong position ever since Bell left the Great Lakes State, but his home state Scarlet Knights are still a force to be reckoned with.
Said Bell “The (Rutgers) coaches make me feel comfortable and they always want to talk to my grandma, so that's a big part of it."
Other schools have made very strong impressions also. The four-star athlete still maintains a “top 13” and doesn’t plan to whittle that list down until the end of August. From there he plans to take as much time as is necessary to arrive at the right decision.
"I want to take my officials before I commit, but if I can't take all of them (well before signing day), I'll probably push it close to signing day or close to signing day,” said Bell. “If anything pans out, probably before then."
“(It will come down to) just where I feel comfortable at, where I feel at home, where the coaches make me feel wanted, and where I can talk to them about anything."
According to Scout.com’s Brian Dohn three schools will have chances to further Bells comfort with them in the next few weeks.
“Bell be at Ohio State's Friday Night Lights on July 22 a9nd) he is tentatively set to visit Rutgers for a July 30 barbecue,” Dohn reported. “Then, providing he can get a ride, he is planning an Aug. 6 visit to Michigan for a barbecue (i.e. the Barbecue at the Big House).”