While many players invited to the Senior Bowl have spent time reacquainting themselves with teammates and familiar opposition, one athlete is unknown to many of the scouts and most of the invitees.
Joique Bell is a 5'10'', 223-lbs running back from Wayne State in Detroit, MI. Bell is the only player invited to Mobile, AL that is not from an FBS or FCS institution.
The word from the practice sessions is that Bell acts like he belongs with the other players from the bigger schools. In actuality, Bell should behave like he is just like the other running backs in Mobile because he has accomplished more in his career than all of them.
Bell was awarded the Harlon Hill Trophy, the Division II equivalent of the Heisman Trophy, this past season. In both 2006 and 2007, he was a semifinalist for the same award.
Bell's 6,728 career rushing yards ranks him sixth in Division-II and eighth in NCAA history. He is 25th in the history of the NCAA with 152.91 rushing yards per game. He has joined Emporia State's Brian Shay, C.W. Post's Ian Smart, and Abilene Christian's Bernard Scott as the only Division II players to achieve two 2,000-yard seasons.
Bell's 8,055 all-purpose yards places him fourth in Division-II history and ninth in the history of the NCAA.
For now, Bell is protected to be picked somewhere between the fourth and sixth round of the NFL Draft. However, with a strong performance in the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine, he could move up significantly.
Bell's biggest strengths include his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and his powerful running style. At Wayne State, he caught at least one pass in 37 games and finished his college career with 918 receiving yards. This thick-framed runner gets his pads low for contact, making him tough to bring down in tight quarters and in the open field.
Other than the inferior competition Bell faced playing in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, his biggest negative is his lack of speed. In an attempt to improve his burst, Bell has been working with a trainer in California, spending many hours running in the mountains and in sand.
Vincent Jackson (Northern Colorado) and Pierre Garcon (Mount Union) are just two players that have proved that one does not have to come from a Division I school to be successful in the NFL.
While some scouts will be checking to see if Tim Tebow can take a snap from center without fumbling and wondering if LeGarrette Blount will punch anyone out when the game ends, those that pay close attention to Bell might enjoy the Senior Bowl the most.
Photo Credit: Mark Hicks/Wsuathletics.com