May 1, 2008

Versatile Bell drawing in-state interest

Jacoby Bell can do a little bit of everything on the football field.

The 6-foot-3, 210-pounder is listed as a wide receiver in's database, and that's primarily where college recruiters envision him playing on the next level. However, the d'Iberville, Miss., standout isn't limited to running pass routes and catching passes.

"I'll play anywhere and everywhere they want me," Bell said Wednesday, minutes before taking the practice field on a sun-drenched day on Mississippi's Gulf Coast. "I have played defensive end, fullback, linebacker. I'm playing quarterback this season. I played safety my freshman season. I played some cornerback last year. I usually got put on the other team's go-to guy last season. I'm real talented. I love getting after it. I hate losing. Nobody likes losing, but I just can't stand it. I mean, it upsets me to the point where I want to cry."

The obstacle in Bell's way that could have him and college coaches crying in the next few months is his academic situation.

"I know his GPA is going to hurt him," d'Iberville coach Buddy Strickland said. "As far as his ACT score, he hasn't taken it, but he's not a dumb kid. I think he can score high on it, but his GPA, he's one of those type kids who has kind of just drug around and I think you can blame it on a lot of people, but he was just getting by. If he made a 78 a test and he needed a 70, he just wasted eight points. He doesn't want to do more than he has to."

Bell, an outgoing young man with an infectious personality, knows his work is cut out for him but he's optimistic that he can meet NCAA initial-eligibility requirements.

"I'm not so far behind where I can't make it," Bell said. "I have to get a high score on the ACT. The attention has been motivating me a lot. When I don't want to do something (in the classroom), I think about it."

If Bell, ranked No. 16 on the Preseason Mississippi Top 25, makes it, there will be plenty of suitors waiting to sign him up. Bell holds offers from Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Southern Mississippi, and he said the Rebels and Golden Eagles are his leaders.

"It's pretty close between Southern Miss and Ole Miss," Bell said. "They sent a couple of people to the NFL. I'm looking to play football for the rest of my life. I want to."

As for Mississippi State, Bell said, "Well, I don't know. They don't interest me that much. I don't know why. They just don't."

Bell's recruiting could make things interesting at home as well. Bell said his mother, Sherry, played basketball at Ole Miss and she "wants me to go there bad." His father, E.J., played basketball at Alcorn State and he "likes Southern (Miss) a lot. He wants me to go to Southern."

Bell's destined position is as up in the air as his future college home. This year, Bell will play quarterback and middle linebacker.

"It depends on how defense goes this year," Bell said. "I'm playing middle linebacker this year and I've been hitting pretty hard. If that works out, I wouldn't mind playing linebacker. I know I'm not a quarterback, but I'm enough of an athlete where I can play quarterback. I know how to throw a little bit, but I'm not a quarterback. I'm more of a wide receiver."

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