Meyer Rings Victory Bell for 5-Star Safety
By Michael Chung
One of the most coveted athletes in the 2013 class, at any position, finally made his decision on Wednesday morning. Not a moment too late.
With a commitment from 5-star safety Vonn Bell this morning, Urban Meyer and his coaching staff can officially start celebrating.
Ever since the summer camps where Vonn lit up the field the Ohio State coaches have coveted him for his superior athleticism on the back end of the defense. Rated as a top-35 player in the country by most recruiting services, this 5-star safety out of Georgia has been pursued hard by many top programs, most notably Alabama and Tennessee.
A lot of differing stories came out of the Bell camp. One was that Bell gave Nick Saban an early silent verbal. Another was that Alabama could not offer Vonn Bell immediate playing time. Many reported throughout the process that Tennessee was where his heart was, having grown up a Volunteers fan (Bell is originally from Chattanooga, Tenn.). But in the end, Ohio State and Urban Meyer rang victorious.
Co-defensive coordinator Everett Withers was just as significant in the recruitment of Bell, who gives the Buckeyes another potential star to build around on defense. He visited the Ridgeland High School product the Thursday before National Signing Day and whatever the Buckeyes were offering proved too much for Bell to turn down.
Ohio State has two returning safeties – C.J. Barnett and Christian Bryant – for 2013, but both are seniors. This may have been the carrot that drew Bell’s cart to Ohio State, knowing that the safety position would be wide open after the 2013 season.
And it will be. The Buckeyes are not very deep at safety currently, and their top three guys are all seniors. Glenville product De’van Bogard is a hard-hitter, but he’s coming off a season-ending knee injury during his rookie year at OSU. Ron Tanner is the only other pure safety who will still be on the roster in 2014, although Tyvis Powell and Cam Burrows could both get a look on the back end.
Bell is the real deal, however, at least as prospects go.
“There is not much Bell does not do well in the secondary. He is still a little light for a safety that loves to deliver big hits, but he does most things very well,” Chad Simmons of Scout.com writes
“He makes plays, he has exceptional hands, he closes on the ball well, and he has shown great bursts out of his breaks. He could get a look at corner too because of his feet and quickness. He is an all around athlete with big-play ability.”
Throughout the process, Bell cited the importance of “relationships” with coaches as a major factor. After it appeared Alabama was out of the running, Bell clearly had longer-standing relationships with Urban Meyer and the Ohio State coaches.
At 6-0, 190 pounds, with the ability to run a sub-4.5 forty yard dash, some have argued Bell would likely move to corner, but Ohio State certainly has more of a need at safety. While he runs like a corner, Bell hits like a safety and has shown an ability to play that position at an elite level.
“Vonn is the most productive player I've coached in 28 years,” Ridgeland head coach Mark Mariakis said during Bell’s senior season.
“He does so much on both sides of the ball. There's a lot of fast people out there, but not many who are as fast as him and can come up and hit like he does.”
Bell recorded over 150 tackles in each of the past two seasons at Ridgeland. He also rushed for over 1,000 yards rushing and scored more than 20 touchdowns as a senior in 2012.
With bursts of speed and ability to close on players, look for Ohio State to ring this Bell and keep him as a hard-hitting safety on the back end of the defense.