Derrius Bell was paying attention last season when then Hawaii coach June Jones defended his Heisman candidate quarterback Colt Brennan against accusations that he was a system quarterback by asserting that eventual Heisman winner Tim Tebow was a system quarterback as well.
Bell cannot be happier to have Jones on his side now after Southern Methodist University hired the coach this past January. "I remember saying, ‘Man, that's the kind of coach I'd love to play for,'" Bell told PonyStampede.com Thursday. "When we hired him I was on top of the world."
Now the sophomore cornerback is looking to contribute to Jones' rebuilding effort after flashing his potential in a disappointing 1-11 season last year.
The 5-foot-10, 165 pound Hillcrest product played nine games as a true freshman last year primarily on special teams before seeing increased duty as a cornerback at the end of the season. He responded to his role increase with a six tackle performance in the season finale against Memphis.
Bell believes he will be able to use performances like that as a springboard for a big season this year. "Hopefully this year I can prove to me and the fans of SMU that I can play," he said. "But I feel like I did pretty good for a freshman."
The cornerback said he is benefiting from a good relationship with secondary coach Derek Odum and a laid back atmosphere that Jones has instilled in the program. He is expected to start after finishing the spring as at the top of the depth chart at left corner.
The sophomore said he expects aggressive schemes from Jones and his staff which will put the corners on an island and "let us show our talent."
Bell, however, does not have any numbers or accolades he is shooting for this season. "I just want after every wide receiver plays against me for them to go home and say ‘Man, I really didn't expect to play that bad today,'" he said.
"If I can do that then I'd say I had a pretty good day."