Player in Focus: Blake Bell

Oklahoma tight end hitting upward trend of development

Professional tight ends like Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski are matchup nightmares even at the highest level of competition.

When Oklahoma tight end Blake Bell decided to switch to tight end to best pursue a career in NFL, he no doubt had those two in mind. He looks like a prototypical tight end. At 6-foot-6, Bell is just as tall as Gronkowski and only an inch shorter than Graham.

But he’s definitely not to that level yet.

“He continues to get better,” Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. “He’s a big target and particularly in the red zone when you can throw it over the linebacker and feel you’re not going to throw it out of the end zone because of his height and his ability to go up and get it.”

Bell did exactly that on the first of his two touchdowns Saturday. Every day, Bell gets better at the position. He’s definitely not to the level of Graham or Gronkowski, but he’s making progress towards his first goal – the NFL.

“I think I’m just trying to do everything I can to help the team win and that’s the first thing,” Bell said. “I’m doing my job on the field, making blocks, making catches and that’ll all take care of itself. They’ll see me more and more as I continue to make plays and help the team.”

Bell’s learning curve was always going to be exponential. He has all the athletic gifts of an elite tight end, he just had to learn the position. As a quarterback he knew how to play, but he had to figure out every little nuances of it.

After a two-touchdown showing against Iowa State that included an athletic leap and a body-positioning score, Bell might just be hitting the upward curve of that trend.

“It’s a learning process. Every game’s different,” Oklahoma co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell said. “. .. About every week, there’s some new things that he’s not familiar with but he responded very well. He’s got a very good feel for certain types of pass concepts.”

Bell has a touch in every game this year and multiple catches in each of the past three games. Bell only had two multi-catchs game through Oklahoma’s first five contests.

He’s starting to figure out exactly how to play tight end.

“He’s a physical guy,” Stoops said. “I don’t need to tell you about that. He’s shown great maturity in everything he does.”


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