Practice Tour: Hawatha Bell

MATTHEWS, N.C. --- Butler High School not only has to replace 13 starters this coming season, but five of those departures signed with Division I-A schools. The Bulldogs will count on returning two-way star Hawatha Bell to help lessen the blow.

"Of course he's a four-year starter for us, he's going to have to play a lot on defense and then he's going to come over and help us on offense, too," Butler head coach Mike Newsome said.

On defense Bell's primary position is outside linebacker. However, during the course of a game the 6-foot-1, 228-pounder will line up at all three ‘backer positions in Butler's 4-3 defense, as well as defensive end.

"He's extremely fast and extremely strong, so he's a heck of an outside rusher," Newsome said. "And then the plays that he can make all over the field are tremendous because he has great speed and great ability."

A three-time all-conference selection at linebacker, Bell collected 121 tackles and three sacks last fall.

Offensively, Bell is expected to be in the mix at tailback. He rushed for five touchdowns as a junior.

"He'll continue [to play offense] as long as he's healthy and as long as he's able to perform on defense," Newsome said. "Right now, we'll probably just keep him healthy and let him play defense with the way we're running the football."

Junior Markell Moore, sophomore Jawaun Edwards, who Newsome likens to Ryan Houston, and senior Andrew Sutton create a solid backfield trio. The three, especially Moore, found no problem racking up the yards against Charlotte (N.C.) Olympic during Wednesday's scrimmage.

"I really don't know [how many carries I'll get a game] – not the way they're running," Bell said.

Last Friday, Bell hyper-extended his knee in practice during running back drills. He had an MRI on Wednesday but is still awaiting the results. The injury isn't expected to be serious, but Bell will be sidelined until he's 100-percent.

"We'll hold him out," Newsome said. "We know he can play."

Bell is walking around with a slight limp, but without crutches or a knee brace.

"It feels pretty good, I got it drained [Tuesday]," Bell said.


Although he says he is "open" and doesn't claim any favorite schools, Bell has already begun to determine which schools he'll officially visit.

"I'm going to take official visits to Virginia Tech, South Carolina, UNC, NC State, and maybe Michigan," Bell said. "[With those schools, I like] the programs – how they win and their education."

All five aforementioned schools have extended Bell a scholarship offer.

Bell hasn't scheduled any visits yet, but he said he has his eyes on several games: South Carolina-Clemson, South Carolina-Georgia, NC State-UNC, and UNC-Virginia Tech.

Since the end of the spring, Bell hasn't visited any schools.

Hawatha Bell Profile

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