ENCINO, Calif. -- ESPN Junior 300 defensive back Marvell Tell (Encino, Calif./Crespi) has bagged his first dozen scholarship offers from schools in six different states, emerging as one of the top prospects in Southern California, regardless of age.
USC entered the race for the No. 3-rated safety in the 2015 class by offering in early May. All signs would suggest the Trojans have some work to do to land Tell, who lives near the Rose Bowl and wears a pair of blue and gold UCLA gloves during practice.
Yet, the 6-foot-1, 175-pound athlete has no allegiance.
“All schools are on the same level right now,” Tell said this week prior to the start of his junior season. “I want to take my time during the recruiting process.”
Offseason offers from Miami (Fla.) and Tennessee surprised Tell, if only because they meant his name had gone national. Coaches that dropped by Crespi High School last year to evaluate safeties Brandon Arnold (Oregon State) and Tyler Foreman (UCLA) also got a glimpse at the future.
The Los Angeles schools, with the advantage of proximity, will have an opportunity to separate themselves this fall from a group that already includes Cal, Nebraska, Vanderbilt and Washington, among others.
“I’m going to play very close attention to what [USC and UCLA] do on the field,” Tell said. “I also want to visit some of their practices, some games and get to know the coaches a little bit more. I’ll be paying attention.”
The Trojans would help themselves with a solid showing this season, given that recruiting coordinator Ed Orgeron is the only USC coach Tell has spoken with during the process. On top of that, the next time Tell sets foot on campus will also be the first time.
Tell, who is interested in majoring in kinesiology, said he grew up following both USC and UCLA.
“USC was, of course, the powerhouse in L.A.,” Tell said. “With UCLA, I live in Pasadena, so they stand out. They’re both in my backyard and great schools. They both stand out to me.”
Though he’s projected as a safety in college, Tell also plays some cornerback and receiver at Crespi, which features two other ESPN Junior 300 members. He’s willing to play offense if it means it will help Crespi advance out of the difficult Serra League in the state’s Southern Section.
Rated No. 6 overall among recruits in the West region, Tell is part of a loaded 2015 class in the state. Defensive tackle Jacob Daniel (Fresno, Calif./Clovis North), cornerback Iman Marshall (Long Beach, Calif./Poly), linebacker John Houston Jr. (Gardena, Calif./Serra), and defensive ends Rasheem Green (Gardena, Calif./Serra) and Keisean Lucier-South (Orange, Calif./Orange Lutheran) are some of the other defensive standouts that are on USC’s radar.
“I feel honored that people notice me among that special group,” Tell said. “I feel blessed. I work hard every day to keep my name in there.”