The Bell Switch

Whether it's stepping in for a fallen starter, avenging a tough loss or rallying from behind to win a critical game, Big Orange fans love to see their team answer the bell, however today they are relishing a Bell answering the Vols.

The Bell is Antonio Bell, a talented wide receiver from Mainland High School in Daytona Beach, Fla., and his answer was "yes", as he committed to UT assistant Matt Luke Monday to become the seventh prospect to declare for Tennessee's Class of 2008.

The 6-foot-2, 180-pounder chose the Volunteers over offers from Nebraska, South Carolina, West Virginia and Florida International. He was also being heavily recruited by the Florida, Florida State and Alabama.

Bell brings sure hands, good speed and excellent route running ability to the program. He had 43 receptions for 874 yards and four touchdowns as a junior at Mainland. He's a outstanding athlete who starts for the basketball team and also runs track.

"I love the Tennessee offense and how they spread the ball around," Bell told Fighting's Jason Higdon. "I've been talking to tight end Coach Matt Luke throughout the recruiting process and he's a real down to earth guy.

UT's recruiting coordinator, who was hired away from Ole Miss two years ago, was likely walking on air after receiving the call from Bell. The sprinter runs a 4.45 time in the 40 and has a 35-inch vertical leap. He's also a solid student with 3.1 core GPA. He took the ACT on April 14. Some in Tennessee's program compare Bell to Tony Brown, another Sunshine State prospect that became a Volunteer.

UT was the first school to offer Bell a scholarship last September. He had made three trips to Gainesville since then, including a trip for Juniors Day. As late as April 2 he listed West Virginia as his leader. Ultimately, the Vols depth chart appeared to present more opportunity for early playing time, and he always dreamed of playing in the SEC.

"I grew up liking Tennessee and Florida," Bell told National Editor Allen Wallace. "I love the SEC and that they both put a lot of guys into the League. They really know how to get the wide receiver the ball. They spread the ball around a lot and I like the coaches. They run a good offense and seem like good people. They tell you things straight up and how it is."

Bell can improve his strength — although he performs a respectable six reps of 205 pounds on the bench press and 385 pounds in the squat — but with a year to develop he projects as an early contributor on the next level.

With the addition of Bell the Vols now have seven commitments at seven different positions and from six states, including tight end Aaron Douglas of Maryville, fullback Ben Bartholomew of Nashville, cornerback J.T. Floyd of Greenville, S.C., linebacker Austin Johnson of Hickory, N.C., running back Tauren Poole of Toccoa, Ga., and offensive guard Carson Anderson of Florence, Ala.

Note: We have given Bell a ring and when he answers the call we'll have more details on him and his decision to Volunteer.

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