Three Dead Even for Bell

CORNELIUS, N.C. --- Heading into the football season, Corey Bell anointed NC State his early favorite. After just a couple of weeks of football, there's been a change.

"Right now, it's dead even with Duke, NC State, and UNC," said Bell, a 2015 prospect. "As for schools that haven't offered, I'm hoping for Louisville and Michigan State – those are two schools are really interested in.

"I like Duke because I can tell the coaches really have a plan for me. Every single week they're asking me to call.

"UNC is the same – always sending mail, always making sure about the person and not just the player. I can tell they have a plan for me in general beyond football.

"NC State, I've been hearing a little bit from them, but Duke and UNC have been hitting me hard. I can tell they're interested. I wouldn't say that NC State has dropped off [with their interest], it's just that Duke and UNC have picked it up."

Duke, UNC, and NC State comprise Bell's scholarship offer list. The 5-foot-9, 159-pound cornerback from William A. Hough High School is also receiving interest from schools throughout the ACC and SEC, as well as Cincinnati, Indiana, Nebraska, and Southern Cal.

Bell's interest in Michigan State stems from a family connection with the school. His father, Myron, was an All-Big Ten safety for the Spartans before embarking on an eight-year NFL career that included starting for the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XXX.

Outside of attention, NC State originally was ahead of the other two offering schools because of Bell's familiarity with the program, having attended a game in Raleigh last football season. That too has changed – and continues to change. This football season Bell has attended two football games both at Duke – the season-opener against NC Central and Saturday's loss to Pittsburgh.

This Saturday, Bell will be in Chapel Hill for UNC vs. East Carolina, his first Tar Heel football game.

"I'm looking to see the game experience," Bell said. "I want to see what UNC football is all about. I've seen that with every school [that has offered] except them. It will be exciting. Other than the camp, I haven't taken a visit up there, yet. That's what I'm looking forward to see how big football is there, because I know it's a basketball school. But they've said things have changed, so I'm looking forward to see."

Bell's schedule then includes a return to Carter-Finley Stadium on Oct. 12 for NC State-Syracuse. He also plans to be on hand when the Wolfpack host UNC on Nov. 2. Seven days later, he'll be back in Durham for Duke vs. NC State. For the final game of the regular season, he'll either attend the Iron Bowl (Alabama at Auburn) or UNC vs. Duke in Chapel Hill.

UNC is using a tag team recruiting effort on Bell. He communicates regularly with both Gunter Brewer, who recruits Mecklenburg County for UNC, and Dan Disch, the Tar Heels' cornerbacks coach.

"They say all types of things to me – their academics, school atmosphere, how football is rising," Bell said. "And they're always asking how my family is doing. You can tell, it's just not about football."

With Bell's help, Hough has been slowly but surely building a reputation as one of the state's top football teams. Friday night it picked up its biggest win thus far in program history – a 28-27 victory over the football power Independence.

"This is our first time going 4-0 going into conference play," Bell said. "I just got done talking to some people and they're trying to hype the Mallard Creek game, but we've got to take it one week at a time, because when you're looking ahead, that's when you can slip up."

In the game, Bell broke up a deep pass intended for Workpeh Kofa on Independence's final drive that maintained the one-point lead and helped deliver the victory.

"The receiver kept running me off on all the run plays all night long," Bell said. "They were always running to the opposite side and the receiver would run some type of route. So I knew they were just trying to test me to see what type of route they could get me on, so I knew it was coming... It was the last drive, so I knew they couldn't run anymore. Sure enough, they did a stop and go. I wish I could have picked it off, but he made a great play on the ball [since] he played [as] the DB."

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