WHAT: Bell is a shifty speedster, but has the physique and strength to work inside. You can't categorize him as "just" a deep threat, because Bell 's strength allows him to work inside, and he's as effective going over the middle as he is on "go routes." While is speed is an obvious asset, Bell cites his strength and ability after the catch as equal. "I'm good at getting off the jam. You have to be physical, and I am quick enough to get away from them, but if they are playing me on the line, I know how to use my hands to get off that jam, " he said.
WHY: With the loss of Frantz Hardy and Terrence Nunn to graduation, Nebraska finds itself down any proven slot-types and are definitely going into the 2008 campaign without a single proven deep threat. Returning wideouts sophomore Niles Paul and redshirt freshman Curenski Gilleylen are obvious replacements, but Gilleylen has yet to play while Paul got very little time on the field last season.
Of the most experienced players coming back, seniors Todd Peterson and Nathan Swift are more possession-type receivers, and while there are high expectations for junior Menelik Holt, he's definitely a possession-type receiver as well as junior Chris Brooks.
Nebraska could get some immediate help from incoming freshmen Khiry Cooper and Antonio Bell, who fit into a similar mold as Bell . But when it comes to experience in this very valuable aspect of the receiving corps, Nebraska is literally going to have to learn about where they sit with this group as the season goes along. Amongst the other receivers coming in are Tim Marlowe, who at 5 foot, 10 inches tall, is an open-field threat, but will have to prove he can consistently get off the line at the Division 1-A level. Finishing off the list is Steven Osborne, who fits into the mold of Holt, Brooks and the potential big-bodied possession-type receivers.
As a junior Bell was just 11 yards shy of 1,000 receiving, on 58 catches, 12 of those going for scores. That gave him an average of just over 17 yards per catch.
THE TEAMS: Bell reports close to double-digit offers, the most recent coming from Colorado . Nebraska was the most recent offer before that. Amongst his other offers are LSU, Arkansas , Alabama , Ole Miss, Miss. St. and Tulsa .
IS LSU A LOCK?: "I know everyone thinks I am going to go there, because everyone goes there," Bell said. "But I actually grew up a Michigan and Miami fan. I'm not closing the door on anyone. I need to do what's best for me, not what others want me to do."
CAMPS: I am going to Alabama this weekend for a camp with my
teammate, Abrecus Martinez. We also plan on going to a one-day camp to Nebraska
and then probably LSU, Michigan , Arkansas , Ole Miss and Mississippi State ,"
ABRECUS MA RTINEZ : Martinez is the other half of the Rayville tandem, Martinez catching 50 balls as a junior, totaling 853 yards, 123 of his catches going for scores. When asked about the chance for both to go to the same college, Bell said that it was something each has talked about already. "It would be cool. We have played together and I think we make a pretty good duo," he said. "We are going to do what's best for us, but it would be cool to play together in college," Bell said.
ON NEBRASKA : "I don't know a lot about them. I know it's a big
football tradition, and I know they have some coaches from LSU. I got to know
coach "J.P." (John Papuchis) really well from doing Summer camps at LSU. He's
the one recruiting me."
IDEAL OFFENSE: :"I want to go play at a place where it's a
balance between the run and the pass. I think if you can set up the pass with
the run, the receivers get a lot more opportunities to make big plays," he
TIMEFRAME: "I want to have my decision out of the way before the end of July. This is my last year and I want to be thinking about my team and winning a state title and not have to worry about recruiting."
CURRENT FAVORITES: "I don't have any favorites. I can't until I get to see these schools for myself, get a feel for the campuses, the academic programs, the players and the coaches," he said. "Once I get my visits out of the way this Summer, I will know a lot more about these places than I do now."
THE SKINNY: Bell is a solid all-around prospect, ranked as a four star by Scout.com, and Martinez , who is similar in size (6-2, 180), could make this one of the better recruited tandems in the country. Martinez also has an offer from Nebraska , and Colorado and Tulsa have also both reportedly offered each a full ride to their institutions.
There is an obvious question of balance in recruiting, but even with Nebraska having a host of wideouts in the same mold of Bell, with so little being proven at the position it puts pressure on Nebraska to keep going for these types of receivers. Both Bell and Martines, due to their size and athleticism (Abrecus runs a reported 4.50/40), they could be seen as both pass-catchers and potential contributors in special teams. Bell has also played and is expected to play this year, at the cornerback position.
We'll bring you more with Bell and Martinez and we'll follow up with them after their one-day camp at Nebraska , which could come as early as this coming week.