Bell Won't 'Toil' for Tennessee

As Tennessee fans cross the name of Blake Bell off their high school quarterback wish list, queries rise, consternation gets ramped up and speculation runs rampant, regarding the identity of Lane Kiffin's handpicked trigger man of the Vols' not so distant football future.

At 6-foot-6, 215-pound Blake Bell certainly fits the description of the type of strong-armed, pocket-trained, super-sized signal caller Kiffin has specified as right for his quintessential pro-style system. Athletic enough to have played wide receiver as a sophomore, he burst on the scene at quarterback last season, throwing for 3,200 yards and 38 touchdowns while adding another 300 yards and 12 TDs on the ground for Bishop Carroll Catholic HIgh School in Wichita, Ka.

Unfortunately for Tennessee as well as Georgia, Notre Dame, UCLA, Nebraska, Kansas, Clemson, Missouri, Maryland, Kansas State, West Virginia, Oregon, Texas A&M, Miami, Iowa and North Carolina among others, Bell announced for Oklahoma on Monday. It's difficult to say how strong a contender UT was but it wasn't for want of effort. In fact he was scheduled to visit Tennessee along with Kansas, Georgia, Missouri and Notre Dame, but was so impressed by his trip to Norman that he decided to make his commitment last Thursday.

It's unclear how many quarterbacks Tennessee has offered from the Class of 2010, but Bell, who is ranked No. 2 nationally and No. 1 ranked Jake Heap are certainly at the head of the list. Kiffin didn't sign any quarterbacks in the Class of 2009 and Tennessee didn't sign one in 2008. The Vols signed Jonathan Crompton in 2005, Nick Stephens in 2006 and B. J. Coleman in 2007, making inking a quarterback critical.

Despite that need Kiffin won't settle for less than what he wants when it comes to finding a field general. He passed on two UT quarterback commitments corralled by the previous administration in Bryce Petty, a three-star prospect from Midlothian, Texas, and Tajh Boyd a five-star prospect from Hampton, Va., who won the Co-MVP Award at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

As is so often the case with recruiting several story lines cross over. Now that Bell has committed to Oklahoma it likely means Heaps of Skyline High School in Issaquah, Wa., will eliminate the Sooners from his favorites list, leaving Alabama, BYU, Florida State, California, LSU, Georgia, Washington and Tennessee as the current top contenders.

Tennessee has also shown interest in No. 4 ranked quarterback Phillip Sims of Oscar F. Smith High School in Chesapeake as well as No. 13 ranked Jesse Scroggins of Lakewood, Calif., who are both rated as four-star prospects. Others will emerge as the process wears on, although Heaps has indicated he would like to have his commitment out of the way before the start of his senior season.

It should also be pointed out that another prospect from Wichita, signed with Tennessee in March despite having committed to Miami 13 months before. Of course we're talking about running back Bryce Brown, who was the nation's No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2009. Should the Vols be fortunate enough to sign Heaps, they would add Scout.com's No. 1 overall prospect in the Class of 2010. However if Heaps was to decide to commit to Oklahoma it could prompt Bell to revisit his decision.

In other words, it's a long way from April to February.


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