Defensive coordinator Corwin Brown went by David W. Butler High to see Hawatha Bell, and he called the 6-foot-1, 235-pounder on the phone.
"Basically, he was just talking about me coming up to Notre Dame and checking them out," Bell said. He currently holds scholarship offers from South Carolina, Virginia Tech, North Carolina State, North Carolina, Illinois, Maryland, Miami, Duke and Wake Forest. "He was asking me if I was afraid to leave home. I said it depends on how I like the school."
Bell's prep teammate Robert Blanton liked the school enough to sign with Notre Dame in the 2008 recruiting class.
At the Shrine Bowl last year, a game that pits the best players from North Carolina and South Carolina against each other, Blanton was on then Irish recruit Kenneth Page about being too scared to leave home for school. The offensive lineman eventually signed with Clemson. Blanton has now moved on to picking on Bell, just in case Notre Dame extends his boy an offer.
"He told me don't be a punk," Bell laughed.
Bell is no punk on the field.
Last season, Bell had over 125 tackles, three sacks, and one fumble recovery he scooped and scored on. Brown told Bell what he thought of him as a player.
"Basically, he said from what he's seen in the video, I play the sideline very well, I'm quick on my feet, and I'm fast for my size," Bell recapped. At the Shrine combine, he was clocked at 4.48 seconds in the 40-yard dash. "And basically, I have a chance to come in and play right away.
"As far as I know, schools want me to play middle. Right now, I play outside, but my defensive coordinator is going to put me in that middle because all the schools want to see me play middle."
Bell currently lists no favorites, and has learned a lot about the recruiting process from his former teammates. Besides Blanton, Spencer Adams (Clemson), Jarrett Boykin (Virginia Tech), E.J. Whitley (Virginia Tech) and Jacob Charest (Illinois), all went through what he is currently going through. Those programs may also have the inside track.
"I'm taking interest in a lot of colleges my teammates went to, and what drew them to those schools like Illinois, Virginia Tech and Notre Dame," Bell explained. "All my players went there, and I'm looking to see what caught their eye."
Blanton tried to recap for Bell why he chose Notre Dame.
"Basically, he just said he went up there and had fun," Bell said. "He said he couldn't really explain it, I just have to go up there and see it for myself. But when he went up there, he had a great time, he had a ball."
Bell has only had the opportunity to visit South Carolina and Wake Forest. He could make it up to Notre Dame this summer.
"Right now I'm waiting to see what happens," Bell said. "I'm talking to my coach about it right now, and hopefully I'll make some trips over the summer."
Bell plans on making a verbal commitment towards the end of his senior football season.
"Basically just a winning program and great academics," he said of what he's looking for in a school. Bell wasn't too sure of his GPA. "I think every place should be big on academics because you really don't know what's going to happen in the long run."