Rossville, Ga. -- Less than three miles from the Tennessee border, coaches from Auburn and Tennessee watch as defensive back Vonn Bell (Rossville, Ga./Ridgeland) makes it look easy against his teammates during the school’s spring scrimmage. Three carries result in three spectacular touchdown plays for the 6-foot, 185-pound ESPN 150 athlete, who would also make his presence known on defense with a couple bone-jarring hits before letting the backups take over.
For Bell, who is coming off an All-State season in which he made 180 tackles, five interceptions, three forced fumbles and three recoveries for touchdowns on defense, as well as 37 rushes for 280 yards and five touchdowns, 31 catches for 487 yards and six touchdowns on offense, it was just another day at the office.
More than 15 programs made the trip in the last month to Rossville to evaluate Bell, who has done his best to return the favor, making trips to Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Georgia, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Tennessee, Texas and Vanderbilt this year. It is all part of a process that Bell and his parents take seriously.
“We are evaluating the programs as well during this time, and we are hoping to see how each program runs and take it all into consideration,” Bell said. “Everything is important when it comes to this, because you are going to be around these people for the next four years. It is about the coaching staffs and finding out if they are directing in the right path toward a championship, as well as looking at the people that would be around you to see if you will have the right chemistry together. The defensive back coach is also really important, as well as looking at the coach’s extensions to see if they are going to be there or not.”
Between his coaches and his family, Bell feels he has a strong support system in place. He has been taking his parents’ pros and cons into consideration while trying to compare it to his own perspective. Up next for the Bell household is huddling up and trying to trim his list.
“We are going to take this time to look closer at the 27 schools that have offered, do some more homework and try to narrow it down to a top seven,” Bell said. “
There are no signs of Bell’s schedule clearing up soon, as he will attempt to juggle summer practice, AAU basketball, and taking trips to a few college camps to see what the coaching is like in person. Although Bell maintains he is taking it day by day, there is a chance he will not be ready to select a college before his senior season, and a 2013 commitment date is not out of the question, either.
“The plan is to enjoy the process and take a few official visits to see how live it is on game day,” Bell said. “I do not know when I will be ready to make my decision yet; it will just be when the time feels right.”
During his college trips, Bell has been introduced to several marquee head coaches, with three standing out to No. 60 prospect in the country.
“Meeting guys like Urban Meyer, Nick Saban and Mark Richt really stood out, because they are all going about their business in an effort to bring in a national championship to their program,” Bell said. “Urban is really open and close to his players. He wants his coaches to be like father figures while his players are away from their parents and make sure they get the education like he promised them. Saban just wants the job done and he is always looking to improve his game every year in order to put his team in a position to be at the top. Richt is like Meyer in that he is really close to his players and really trying to look for elite players to get his team on the road to the championship.”
A couple of Peach State standouts have been in contact with Bell, and he was recently made aware of another elite talent that he would love to play with at the next level.
“I talk to Tray Matthews (Newnan, Ga./Newnan) and Shaq Wiggins (Tyrone, Ga./Sandy Creek)who have committed to Georgia, and they have reached out to me to try and get on that road to building a national championship caliber defense,” Bell said. “I tell them we will see.”
“Someone told me to watch film on Reuben Foster (Auburn, Ala./Auburn) and he is a monster,” Bell said. “He is an elite player, a really hard hitter, and he and I would be a really nice combination together.”
Bell has accepted an invite to play in the Under Armour All-America Game, which last season was played Jan. 5 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., after practices at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
“It is a great honor to be in the Under Armour All-America Game and have the opportunity to play with other top athletes, meet some people who just might be my teammates one day, as well as some I will play against,” Bell said. “It should be a great experience. I have thought about deciding then, but really we are just taking everything into consideration right now.”