SEC verbal now has Cougs tied at top

WASHINGTON STATE IS right in the mix of things for a junior college offensive lineman who verbally committed to an SEC school earlier this year -- but in his own words, he now considers himself a soft verbal to that school. The mammoth offensive guard prospect with a Wazzu offer told CF.C he has an official visit date set to the Palouse, a great relationship with the Cougar coaching staff and...

...That the Cougs are in a dead even battle with Arkansas to land his services.

Nararro Junior College offensive lineman Mitchell Bell (6-4, 320) committed to the Razorbacks sight unseen in August or September (depending on which report you read). But the Razorbacks are 3-5 and Bell said there have been many a rumblings about the job security of Arkansas head coach John L. Smith.

"I really like the school and I think the coaches can get me NFL ready because it's the best conference in the country. It's a soft commitment to Arkansas though. They might not have the same head coach next season, so I'm looking after myself by keep an open mind with other schools," said Bell.

Enter Washington State.

"WSU has been showing me the most interest lately," Bell said. "They're a school that likes that I'm from Texas because it's a good football state and that I have great leadership characteristics."

RUNNING THE POINT for the Cougs is offensive line coach Clay McGuire and Bell said the Cougars are looking at him as a right guard, but are open to giving him a look at the tackle spots as well.

Bell said that on top of his relationship with McGuire, the thought of playing for Mike Leach is another factor that has the Cougars in his top two.

"He's just a great coach and that program is on the verge of greatness," Bell said. "Leach can turn that program around..and I think I could help out. The coaches have told me I can come in and start in my first year."

What is it about his game that makes the staff believe he can potentially become a Pac-12 starter in his first year out of junior college?

"They really like that I'm physical," Bell said. "I play tough football and I enjoy acting as a leader on the line for my teammates."

BELL SAID HE'S primarily focused on his season with Navarro right now, but has an official visit set to Arkansas in early December, followed by the trip to Pullman on Dec. 17.

Bell is on pace to graduate in December, enroll at a school in January and will have three years to play two at the next level.

Bell said he's been talking with a pair of former Navarro teammates now at Wazzu, which has added to the intrigue of his pending official visit to Wazzu.

"I hope the trip surprises me in a good way and I enjoy the campus," Bell said. "I've talked a little bit with Rico Forbes and Matt Goetz and both those guys told me they love it out there and that I'd love it too.

"They said it's a really great football atmosphere and that the team believes they can turn the program around. That's something I'd definitely be excited to be a part of.

"I'm not sure when I'll make my decision, but I'm planning on visiting both schools before I make up my mind. My top two teams are Arkansas and Washington State and I'm very interested in them both."

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