OLATHE, Kan. - Even though he might only stand 5-foot-9 and weigh 165 pounds, Olathe East running back Demetrius Bell might be one of the biggest recruits in the state of Kansas for the class of 2007.
He might also be the fastest.
"I say he's the fastest kid in the state of Kansas," Olathe East coach Jeff Meyers said. "I say that because he took third in the state in the 100 as a sophomore with a 10.6 and the other two that finished ahead of him were seniors. He should win it this year. He just has that extra gear that doesn't let anybody catch him."
Opponents sure couldn't catch Bell in 2005.
The first-team all-Sunflower League, all-Johnson County and all-metro pick blitzed defenses for 1,821 yards on 243 rushes for a 7.5 yard average. He also got into the end zone 23 times, improving on a 400 yard and six-touchdown mark as a sophomore.
"He is the fastest kid I've ever coached," Meyers said. "He ran a 4.35-second time in the 40 at K-State's summer camp last year. The coaches there asked if that was really true, and it is. I've timed him around that several times. I'm not the type of coach that's going to fid or stretch the truth.
"When I say he's the fastest kid in Kansas, I truly believe it."
Meyers also has an eye for Division I talent. He's had eight players that have been at least three-year starters on the Division I level, and he truly believes that Bell has the goods to be next in line.
"The one thing that might take some coaches back is that he's 5-foot-9," Meyers said. "But I think coaches have found there is a spot for players like that in the college football. He might just have to find the right system or find a program that's willing to use a guy like him.
"I think he could be deadly in situations when you throw him the football out of the backfield or used on special teams."
Since Bell is from Olathe and he's also 5-foot-9, he's going to draw comparisons to former Kansas State running back and former Olathe North superstar Darren Sproles. Meyers can see why some are willing to make that comparison, but Bell and Sproles are built a little bit differently.
"Darren had much thicker hips, and he was able to run over you if he had to," Meyers said. "D-Bell is a lot thinner and not as thick, but he has incredible speed and nobody can catch him. He doesn't have to run over too many people."
He's also a gamer. Despite losing in the Class 6A state championship game, Bell had 103 yards rushing on 10 attempts. Plus, football is in his blood. His father, Kevin Shepard, played at SMU. His grandfather, Woodie Shepard, and uncle, Derrick Shepard, played at Oklahoma and his cousin also played at TCU.
"He's going to be a steal for somebody," Meyers said. "I fully expect him to be an early offer type player. He's already getting plenty of attention from all of the local teams - Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri and others are already all over him. But I think he's good enough to play for almost anybody that can use a back in his mold."
Meyers is also high on another upcoming member of the class of 2007 - defensive back Dorian Williams. Williams, is 5-foot-11 and 175 pounds, and has been clocked consistently in the 4.4-second range in the 40-yard dash.
"Dorain was a first-team all-league, all-county and second-team all-metro pick this season," Meyers said. "He's a hard-nosed physical player that could also play receiver in college, but with his coverage skills and his ability to turn his hips and run, I see him as a cornerback in college.
"He's getting better and better each time out on the football field and by the time he's done as a senior, I really think somebody will find themselves a very good player."
Williams had 62 tackles, five tackles for a loss, four interceptions and 11 pass break-ups as a junior.
He's also a star baseball player and has been a starting outfielder since his freshman season.