Tennessee is emerging as the favorite to secure a commitment from four-star recruit and the No. four safety in the nation, Vonn Bell (Rossville, Ga., Ridgeland) after he visited Butch Jones and the Volunteer campus this weekend.
Bell grew up a fan of Tennessee and knew he was in a special place when he attended the Vols basketball game on Saturday and when the crowd found out he was in attendance started chanting his name.
That’s a pretty good feeling for a high school senior faced with the biggest decision of his short life.
Bell was rumored to be leaning toward Alabama and Ohio State but the late charge by Jones to secure Bell, who has no more scheduled visits, would represent a signature recruit in Jones’ first recruiting class since being hired from Cincinnati.
One point of concern for Bell was how Jones would fare in the SEC after he earned a share of the Big East title two straight years for the Bearcats, but came away impressed with the excitement and energy Jones is bringing to restoring the once-proud program.
If Bell dons a Tennessee hat on signing day next week, the excitement level of Jones and the fan base will reach a fever pitch. The player that the 6-0 190-pound safety has been compared to during his senior season is former Volunteer defensive back and Pro Bowl safety in the NFL, Eric Berry, who was an All-American for Tennessee before becoming the fifth pick in the NFL draft three years ago.
While that may present a best-case scenario for Bell, he can really do it all on the football field. He has great speed, instincts, athleticism and the frame to add weight and become a powerful tackler who could line up at either safety position.
While anything can change in the week leading up to signing day, it appears that Tennessee is holding the lead for Bell. A win over Alabama in the recruiting circuit obviously isn’t the same as it would be in the fall, but it represents a small victory for Jones and his staff that they can compete with the SEC’s elite.
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