Ohio native Bell makes gutsy choice for Michigan
ESPN 150 Watch List safety
Liberty High School (Youngstown, Ohio)
If you're looking for an intimidating player in the defensive backfield, a guy who plays as tough as he looks, you don't have to go any further than Youngstown, Ohio. The man is Isaiah Bell, an impressive safety with all the tools to be a major college standout.
As a junior, Bell recorded 49 total tackles and four interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns. He was also a standout wide receiver on offense and -- believe it or not -- returned punts and kickoffs. College coaches were quick to notice his talents and offers streamed in to the gifted athlete. Football wasn't the only sport in which he stood out. Isaiah averaged 18 points per game and eight rebounds for his high school basketball team.
Bell didn't wait long and jumped at the University of Michigan, a gutsy pick for a kid from Ohio. When asked why, he said "I really felt comfortable there and I have a chance to play early. I am impressed with Coach [Rich] Rodriguez and secondary coach Tony Gibson."
Bell wants to major in business or pre-law and is striving hard to get his GPA over 3.0.
"My mom has always stressed academics and I don't want to let her down," he explained.
Even though he has accomplished a lot of things already, he is not satisfied.
"I need to keep working on getting stronger and I plan on spending the summer in the weight room. I also run a 4.5 40 but I know I need to get faster," he said.
He prides himself on being physical on the field and names Sean Taylor as his football hero.
Family is important to Bell and when asked about his favorite food he was quick to respond, "No doubt about it, my favorite food is my grandma's dirt dessert. I don't know everything that's in it but I know Oreos and whipped cream are part of the recipe."
Bell is truly excited to have been selected to play in the Under Armour All-America Game in Orlando.
"I can't wait to play in another football game and be seen on national television. My head coach Jeff Whittaker said it was the best all-star game to play in and I'm glad he'll be there to see me play," he said.
I don't know if the "I" in Isaiah stands for interception or the "B" in Bell means big playmaker, but one thing for certain, this guy is a good football player. He shows outstanding ball skills and at 6-2, 200 pounds, he is a big safety.
He rules the secondary as a free safety. Has great instincts and plays outstanding zone coverage especially in the 3 deep. Should be a solid halves player also in two deep zone. A real competitor who can break a game wide open. Breaks quickly on the pass with a burst to the football. High points the football and has great timing on the interception. Makes things happen after the interception; not unusual for him to bring the pick back for a touchdown.
A magnificent kickoff return specialist; has good speed and can read his blocks. Has a second gear and can kick it in to blow by would-be tacklers. Has the courage to field the ball in traffic and bring it right back at the coverage team. A good open-field tackler who needs some work in terms of tackling fundamentals; would like to see him use his size when making the tackle on run support by being more physical. Very athletic football player who has good foot agility and shows flexibility in the hips. Can change direction without loss of speed or balance.
Bell will be a big-time player at a big-time college. Just a little fundamental work is needed.
Bill Conley worked at Ohio State for 17 years as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator. Since retiring from Ohio State in 2004, Conley has worked as a contributor and analyst for Columbus-area print and broadcast media and as a professional speaker. He also published a book recounting his years as Buckeye recruiting coordinator, "Buckeye Bumper Crops."