As another remarkable signing day for the Oklahoma Sooners gets crossed off the calender, the new class of young men looking for a chance to make their mark are receiving much attention.
None more than quarterback Blake Bell.
While the dual-threat Elite-11 signal caller does come in as the highest ranked prospect (No. 31 overall http://scout.com) in the class, earning Gatorade player of the year honors in both his junior and senior outing, and the 6'6", 215lbs Kansas native has only played the position he was recruited for since his junior year.
Though he had a late start, Blake showed instantly that he belonged behind center, completing passes at a rate of 63.6 percent for 3,240 yards with 37 touchdowns and 10 interceptions for his "rookie" season. Then finishing his high school career out strong with a 66.6 percent completion rate, 2,752 yards with 32 TD's and a low 5 INT's.
Bell's physical stature, along with his ability to run, have drawn comparisons to the likes of "Big" Ben Roethlisberger. But Blake's high football IQ has drawn comparisons to Sam Bradford, though the similarities to Sam-I-Am don't end there.
Like Sam, Blake is a multi-sport stand-out; Josh Heupel admitted he "fell in love" with Bell watching him play basketball. Both have a father that played college ball, and both are exceptional students in the classsroom.
So can Blake Bell come in and claim the starting role by the beginning of next season? Unlikely. Not impossible, but still more like improbable.
The first, and biggest, reason would be Landry Jones. Having a year of in-game experience in Kevin Wilson's system gives the "Stache" a big leg up on the competition.
Remember that when Bradford won the job in 2007, he had a redshirt year to learn the playbook, and he didn't face-off with someone that had starting experience (Keith Nichol, Joey Halzle).
Add to all that the bad drops that plagued the Oklahoma receivers throughout most of the year, which fairly prompted the coaching staff and most fans alike to give Jones a pass of sorts on losses that in other years might have cost him the starting role, and that same "benefit of the doubt" attitude is likely to carry over to next year, favoring Jones even further.
After Bradford went down with the shoulder injury against BYU, Landry Jones was sent in. As many know, he didn't play well enough to secure the win against the Cougars that day, but what many don't know is that he did play well enough (just barely) to keep Stoops from pulling Drew Allen out of his redshirt, who is the second reason Blake Bell will likely sit out his first year at Oklahoma.
Drew has gotten lost as of late in the eyes of the fans. But if Jones is really pushed this off-season for his starting, this San Antonio, Texas upshot will be much more inclined to be the one to do it.
Standing 6'5", weighing in at a solid 224lbs, Allen may actually be a better runner than Bell. He definitely has the stronger arm.
Josh Heupel is excited about where Allen could end up, recently citing the growth and development Drew has undergone in his redshirt year. "...He's physically getting much stronger, he's becoming more and more accurate with the football, got a better grasp of what we're doing, and did really well in our (Sun) bowl preparations..."
After hearing that, it would be hard to imagine that Blake Bell could out-dual even the back-up as of right now, let alone Landry.
The last reason would be Blake himself. While he comes in highly touted, Bell is far from perfect.
Even though he is an effective runner, Blake still has to work on his feet inside the pocket, and in his drop. With having only been a quarterback for two years, he will also have to work on his arm strength, a must for the quick slants to the swing passes that are common throws in Wilson's system. Plus his release point is a little low.
All correctable flaws. But flaws nonetheless, and they would need to be at least improved before being tested against a college level defense.
While there may be a quarterback controversy in Norman, with some of the factors weighed in, it would really be a surprise if Blake Bell is involved.
So those would-be Landry Jones "Haters" will have to root for Drew Allen or maybe even John Nimmo. Because as it looks now, in 2010 the "Stache" will ride again.
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