Signee Update: Hawatha Bell

While in Chapel Hill for North Carolina's Spring Game, UNC signee Hawatha Bell received his first opportunity to meet Art Kaufman, UNC's newly hired linebackers coach.

"I only talked to him for about a good ten minutes," Bell said. "But from that ten-minute time frame, to me he was a pretty good guy. I just have to spend more time with him to see how everything is."

Bell, a 6-foot-1, 230-pound linebacker from Matthews (N.C.) Butler, hasn't spoken to Kaufman since then, but he keeps in regular contact with John Blake, his primary recruiter, and Everett Withers, UNC's defensive coordinator.

Although Tommy Thigpen helped recruit Bell and was expected to be his position coach, Thigpen's departure has had little affect on Bell.

"I try not to pay attention to all of that," Bell said. "… I really just try not to pay attention to that because that's really not my focus. My focus should be playing football and getting prepared for this coming season."

In preparation for this coming season, Bell is following the workout regimen assigned to him by Jeff Connors, UNC's strength and conditioning coach, and playing a lot of "full-court" basketball.

Bell is at his target weight of 230 pounds, which is what he played at during his senior football season.

"They just said try not to get fat," Bell said. "Basically, don't come in weighing over 240 [pounds]."

Bell expects to see playing time this fall – he just isn't sure in what capacity.

"I've been told that I wasn't going to get red-shirted," Bell said. "But other than that, I don't know anything for sure."

Bell was recruited as an inside linebacker, but he said he is willing and able to play all three linebacking positions, as well as most special team roles.

There hasn't been any discussions regarding Bell's jersey number, but he's hoping to sport either 34 or 56.

"[No.] 56 is a linebacker number and No. 34 is the number I've always played with," Bell said. "If not those two, then [I want] somewhere in the single digits."

Bell says that he's academically qualified and will head to Chapel Hill on June 16 – three days after his high school graduation.

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