Bell not out of the race

Being the runner-up in an OU quarterback battle hasn't always been disastrous. Others have fought their way back into consideration and earned playing time. Will Bell be able to do the same?

The Oklahoma football world is still buzzing about Thursday's announcement of redshirt freshman Trevor Knight getting the call as OU's starting quarterback.

OU coach Bob Stoops announced Thursday evening it will be Knight leading the team for the season opener next weekend against Louisiana-Monroe.

Beyond that? No guarantee. And if history teaches us anything, don't discount junior Blake Bell from still making a big impact.

Bell, who has been an integral part of OU's offense the last two seasons in the BellDozer package, was tabbed the favorite by many to be the starter this season. He has rushed for 24 touchdowns in his first two seasons in Norman.

Upon the Knight announcement, two lines of thinking became clear. One, OU fans are excited to see what Knight brings to the table. Excited to see why the OU coaches believe it's Knight that gives them the best chance to win. Excited to see just how much of a dual-threat quarterback he really is.

Two, what becomes of Bell? Doesn't it almost feel like OU owed Bell the starting spot? Let's not go that far, but Bell has done everything that has asked of him, too, during this long, stressful process.

Some have speculated Bell will transfer following this season much like Drew Allen did in 2012 when it was clear Bell had beaten out Allen to be the backup signal-caller. Not likely, at least not at this point.

Others have talked about using Bell's nearly freakish size at quarterback in another way and give him a shot at tight end. Possible, and that's a pretty scary sight to consider.

And Stoops hasn't ruled out the possibility of playing both quarterbacks so the BellDozer may still live on in 2013. But maybe all Bell really needs to do is stay positive because his chance will come.

If so, Bell wouldn't be the first OU quarterback during Stoops' regime to bounce back after being knocked down.

In 2001, Stoops chose Nate Hybl over Jason White. White eventually got his chance and made the most of it before tearing his ACL for the first time.

Same thing happened in 2005. Stoops elected to go with Paul Thompson instead of highly touted prospect Rhett Bomar. Following an opening season home loss to TCU, it was Bomar given the nod the rest of the way.

To Thompson's credit, he did reinvent himself as a wide receiver, which might be why so many people are suggesting a move to tight end for Bell.

But attitude goes a long way. It wasn't in 2005 when the patience paid off for Thompson. However, following Bomar's dismissal from the team weeks before the 2006 season, Thompson was back in the driver's seat.

When Sam Bradford became the guy in 2007, quarterbacks Joey Halzle and Keith Nichol didn't cause a ruckus. Nichol eventually transferred to Michigan State, while Halzle has prospered the last couple of years as a graduate assistant for the Sooners.

Bell can only control certain things. OU needs his positive attitude, and Bell will have to pick himself up off the floor to support the program. Knight will need Bell's support and advice, and it will say a lot toward Bell's character how he responds.

Nobody has ever questioned Bell's character during his time with the Sooners, but this might be the first time when the pendulum isn't exactly swinging his way.

The proof is in the fine print.

"Both Trevor and Blake [Bell] have competed hard and both will be ready to play against Louisiana-Monroe," Stoops said. "Like every other position on our team, I expect them both to continue competing for the starting job."

There is no talk of naming Knight the guy for the season. He will have to earn that just as Bell will have to earn getting the playing time he so desires. What Bell does from here will say more about him than any of the 24 touchdowns he's scored for OU up to this point.


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