UCLA Recruiting JC Quarterback

He's a guy that comes from the same junior college as a current big-time college quarterback, running a shotgun scheme, that could come to UCLA this fall. And, he has some considerable ties to the UCLA program...

Two years ago, City College of San Francisco had a quarterback from the West Catholic Athletic League come in and run the Rams offense for one year and turn that into a scholarship from the Pac-10.

Jeremiah Masoli was the quarterback who spent the 2007 season with the Rams, leading them to a JC National Championship. He, of course, has been at Oregon for the past two seasons, where he led the Ducks to a Holiday Bowl and a Rose Bowl.

Now, two years later, Darius Bell is hoping to do the same thing -- spend only one year at CCSF before parlaying that into a scholarship.

Bell, the 6-0, 212-pounder, came to CCSF from a high school just about across the street, San Francisco (Calif.) Riordan, where he helped lead them to a CIF-CCS title in 2007.

Bell signed with Montana State in February of 2008, but when he got there, the NCAA Clearinghouse hadn't cleared him, so he left the Bobcats and ended up back in the Bay Area, working out with CCSF while grayshirting.

He would go on to play the 2009 season with the Rams, throwing for 1,905 yards and 21 touchdowns and only five interceptions, while running for 870 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Bell is now hoping he can leave in May and end up at a D-I program, where he'd have four years to play three seasons. Much of it depends on if he'll be cleared by the NCAA in time to leave in the summer, without needing his AA.

"It all depends on the Clearinghouse," said Bell. "I'm in the process of getting my AA and I'll have it by fall, but if I get cleared by the Clearinghouse, I can leave in May. Right now, I'm just working out with City College, but not leading the 11-on-11, just in case I do leave. That way they have a quarterback who will be there running things."

Bell's circular route back to the Bay has been a wild one. He signed with the Bobcats out of high school, recruited by Jim Svoboda, the Montana State offensive coordinator who had coached his older brother Kahlil Bell at UCLA.

After returning to San Francisco, he received a scholarship offer from San Jose State and previous head coach Dick Tomey. But when Tomey retired after last season, the offer no longer stood.

Still, Bell knew that his talent could take him to the D-1 ranks. Now, some Pac-10 schools are recruiting him, including his brother's alma mater.

"Coach (Rick) Neuheisel and Coach (Norm) Chow have talked with me about coming in the fall," said Bell. "They lost their quarterback before Signing Day, so they don't have one coming in and only have three quarterbacks on scholarship. They haven't offered me yet, but if it all works out with the Clearinghouse, they could offer me and I'd be able to come in and help with depth." While his brother Kahlil's time in Westwood was often bumpy, Darius said he's got nothing but praise for the current UCLA coaching staff, which makes the possibility of him ending up in Westwood more intriguing.

"I'm not going to lie, my brother didn't really do well with the previous staff, and they didn't really recruit me at all in high school either," said Bell. "But Kahlil has nothing but good things to say about Coach Neuheisel and Coach Chow. He really likes them and wished he could have been coached by them longer. My brother was actually the one who told Coach Neuheisel about me."

Bell knows plenty about the UCLA program, and was in Westwood earlier this spring with his father to take in a practice.

"I know Kahlil really liked being coached by Coach Neuheisel and he said if I had the opportunity to go there, to really take a closer look at it," said Bell. "So we'll see what happens."

At the same time, Bell knows he has some other options.

He said: "If I don't get cleared by the Clearinghouse, I'll just come back and play this fall at City College and I'll have my AA in December, so I can leave in time for spring practice. I know if I come back and have another year like last season, than I can get some more offers. I know there are a lot of schools interested in me if I come back so I will have some more options. It's a win-win situation. Either I leave this spring and play or leave in December and play. I'm not worried, it will all work out."

Bell is more of a dual-threat quarterback than a pro-style quarterback, not unlike Masoli, but said that if he needed to play in a pro-style offense he'd be fine. Still, he prefers an offense where he can use his legs as much as his arm.

"I could play in a pro-style, drop-back offense," said Bell. "In fact, I didn't go to the shotgun until I got to City College. But I can use my legs, too."

Bell said his style is similar to Masoli when it comes to running the ball, but said there is a clear difference between the two.

"Jeremiah would run a guy over if he could, but I'm not trying to do that if I don't have to," he joked. "I'd rather run around him." So Bell finds himself in wait-and-see mode, with early May the likely time he'll know what his future holds. "I should know something by like May 3rd, so until then, I'm just working out with my team, and staying in shape and I'll be ready with whatever happens," said Bell.


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