Bell is the full package

Sign up or sign in to get this Tennessee football recruiting update from Be sure to come to IT for all the latest in Volunteer athletics.

In his 28 years of coaching Ridgeland (Ga.) High School head football coach Mark Mariakis has never had a player like Vonn Bell.

However, as far-reaching as Bell's talents are on the football field, the five-star safety prospect may be equally, if not more of an all star off the field.

"He is a kid that everyone wants to be around," Mariakis said. "He brings everybody into his circle. He is not just a jock running around with jocks. He is a kid that everyone can look up to. He represents Ridgeland High School very well. He does great with his grades and works hard. He is just well rounded."

Bell burst on to the national seen his junior season at Ridgeland with a monster season and came out the other side ranked as the No. 28 player in the United States in the 2013 class according to FOX Sports NEXT. However, this season teams are much more aware of the superstar lurking in the defensive backfield.

"His stats are not going to be gaudy like they were last year and we told him that," Mariakis said. "He got a little bit frustrated early in the season because they weren't throwing at him and he wasn't getting the picks. They don't throw it across the middle much, but he isn't worried about his stats."

Bell racked up 291 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns in Ridgeland's October 12 42-7 win over Southeast Whitfield County.
(Danny Parker/
And gaudy they were. Bell finished his junior season with 180 total tackles, 119 solo tackles, five interceptions, three forced fumbles and three recoveries for touchdowns. He added 31 receptions for 487 yards and six touchdowns on the offensive side of the football.

"He is so productive on both sides of the ball," Mariakis said. "He gives you a dimension on offense and defense that we just haven't had here in 28 years of coaching. We have had really good defensive players and really good offensive players, but a kid that can do it all and special teams — I won't ever coach another one like him."

And while Bell, a 6-foot-1, 190 pounder, may have offers from some of college football's best including Alabama, Ohio State, Tennessee, Clemson, Georgia, Texas, Florida, Notre Dame and a laundry list of others, he comes to work every day to improve his game.

"It is a pleasure just to coach a kid, that one has all that natural ability," Mariakis said. "Things come so easy for him and he wants it increase his skill set and the talent that God has given him. It is nice to see a kid like that come to work every day and want to get better.

"On top of that, he is just a good kid. He has great character and he is a great leader. He is going to do what you ask him to do, he is going to come to practice every day and work hard and that's why everyone in the country wants him. He has no red flags. He is just a joy to be with."

It took Bell a moment to get used to the limelight that came with being a top prospect, but since Ridgeland's season-opening 42-35 loss to Calhoun (Ga.) High School Bell and his team have soared to a 7-1 record.

"The first game at Calhoun, it was the first game that everyone knew who he was," Mariakis said. "We got down there and there were five or six cameras in his face when he was stretching and it got to him a little bit early and he told me after the ball game that he wasn't ready for that. After that it has been really good for him. He has handled the recruiting process so well because he is a levelheaded and has a great family to support him."

You can watch InsideTennessee's exclusive interview with Tennessee Volunteers top priority in the 2013 class below:

Inside Tennessee Top Stories