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Old 01-30-2010, 04:31 AM   #1
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Default Wayne State's Joique Bell stands out among All-Stars at Senior Bowl

Wayne State's Joique Bell stands out among All-Stars at Senior Bowl
BY NICHOLAS J. COTSONIKA
FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER

MOBILE, Ala. -- At first, you noticed him for his helmet. It wasn't the famous winged one from Michigan, the bright orange one from Florida or any of the others you see so often on television. It was different -- dark green with a gold W.

"Hey, Wayne State!" That's how one coach barked orders to running back Joique Bell during the first practice for the Senior Bowl.

But as the week went on, you noticed him more for his talent. One coach went as far as to say Bell stood out more than any other offensive skill player.

And in the game Saturday, Bell wants to do more than show a kid from a particular Division II school in Detroit can play with the big boys and deserves a shot in the NFL.

"People here think I'm just here representing Wayne State, but I'm not just representing Wayne State," Bell said. When Bell won the Harlon Hill Trophy in December as the Division II player of the year, he spoke to former NFL star Shannon Sharpe, who played at Savannah State. "He said when he came out, he was representing the whole Division II," Bell said. "He said, well, if he's not good enough to play at this level, then who is? So I feel that if I'm not able to pass at this level, then who is? "I'm doing this to open up a gateway for other D-II players to come in ... and give them a shot to come out here and compete against the best. I'm going to take full advantage of this opportunity. Hopefully, I can turn a couple heads."

Bell impressive in practice; scouts eager to see him in game
The comment came unsolicited. It was Baltimore running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery who brought up Bell to a Detroit reporter, not the other way around.

"He's the guy that has been the true standout," Montgomery said on the third day of practice for the Senior Bowl. "I think as far as offensive skill guys, he has been the most impressive guy."

That is one man's opinion, of course. Others were far more tempered in their comments about Bell, even if he did put up staggering numbers and win the Harlon Hill Trophy as the Division II player of the year. Scouts have a lot of questions: Does he have enough burst? How will he fare against top-flight competition?

And Saturday's game will be more important than the practices for Bell as he tries to raise his stock for the NFL draft in April. Scouts need to see running backs when the action is live. Can he make people miss at full speed? Can he break tackles?

But Montgomery knows what a good NFL running back looks like. He coached Marshall Faulk and Steven Jackson in St. Louis, and he coaches Ray Rice and Willis McGahee in Baltimore.

"You see if a guy can make a guy miss when he's in the hole," said Montgomery, who was the Lions' running backs coach in 2006-07. "What I saw yesterday, glaringly, four times when he had the ball, he was able to front up a guy right in the hole and shake him and get out of there."

Montgomery also loved the way Bell finished every drill, sprinting the ball to the end zone.

"When a player works hard and he finishes the way he did yesterday," Montgomery said, "he caught the eye of probably every running back coach here."

Montgomery has two questions about Bell: If he's so good, racking up 6,728 rushing yards, eighth in NCAA history, why did he go to Wayne State? And how well does he learn, taking concepts from the classroom to the field?

Bell said he went to Wayne State for one simple reason: He wanted to play running back, and coach Paul Winters was one of the few who wanted him to. Bell mostly played quarterback at Benton Harbor High because his team needed him there. Schools like Michigan and Michigan State didn't get a good look at him at running back, so they were interested in him only as a safety.

"He came on his recruiting visit, and you could just tell he was a big-time player and all the coaches were excited he was even on a visit," said Mickey Berce, who played quarterback at Wayne State in 2004-08. "Coach Winters did a great job of recruiting him, because he's been putting Wayne State on the map. Without him, it would be rough, to say the least."

Bell said: "Everything happens for a reason, and we'll find out what that reason is in April."

As for his ability to learn, Bell knows the importance of showing that this week, when the coaches cram in a playbook in a few days and evaluate how the players absorb it.

You've got to be able to comprehend it, hands down," Bell said. "If you don't, you know, that's your shot."

The Lions' coaches are leading the North, and offensive coordinator Scott Linehan noticed Bell the first day. In this environment, a lot of players, especially at skill positions, especially from small schools, might try to freelance so they can make a play and draw attention. But Bell did what he was supposed to do the first time the North ran the ball, gaining 4 yards.

"He's got a no-nonsense kind of approach to the game," Linehan said. "He said, 'I understand this play. I'm going to go get 4 yards.' And I like that. He's consistent. This is not a big stage to him. He fits right in."

What about Bell's burst? He worked with a trainer in the Bay Area for two weeks before the Senior Bowl and will return for three weeks before the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis next month. He said he can run the 40-yard dash in the 4.4-second range consistently and as low as 4.39. He hopes to lower that to 4.32.

"I've got tunnel vision," Bell said. "It won't be a problem for me to stay focused."

How will Bell fare against top-flight competition? That remains to be seen. So far, so good.

"He's on the field with some of the top prospects," Montgomery said, "and right now he's outplaying a lot of the top prospects at his position."
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Old 01-30-2010, 09:19 AM   #2
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Default Re: Wayne State's Joique Bell stands out among All-Stars at Senior Bowl

I know you have been pimping Bell for a long time. I liked what I saw, but hopefully McCluster steals the show today and Bell does slide to the 5th. Like I said before, I like what I seen in Dixon, Bell and Tate this week to be a complimentary back for the Steelers. Hope they pick one.
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Old 01-30-2010, 01:35 PM   #3
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Default Re: Wayne State's Joique Bell stands out among All-Stars at Senior Bowl

Way to go LLT

Looks like you have pimped him out of our reach. You are starting to get good at his.

Good to see your initial assessments were right on the money.
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Old 01-30-2010, 01:40 PM   #4
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Default Re: Wayne State's Joique Bell stands out among All-Stars at Senior Bowl

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Way to go LLT

Looks like you have pimped him out of our reach. You are starting to get good at his.

Good to see your initial assessments were right on the money.


Seriously...I'm going to start pimping some REALLY sucky players...just so I wont care when they climb the draft boards.
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Old 01-30-2010, 01:45 PM   #5
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Default Re: Wayne State's Joique Bell stands out among All-Stars at Senior Bowl

Keep on doing a good job LLT.

I have had fun watching Austin Collie this year. I am sure you are going to enjoy watching Bell play regardless of where he ends up.

The reward is that you know in yourself that you are getting better at identifying talent. Probably a better measure is reducing the number of bad pimps we make. Now that is a real challenge.
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Old 01-30-2010, 01:50 PM   #6
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Default Re: Wayne State's Joique Bell stands out among All-Stars at Senior Bowl

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Keep on doing a good job LLT.

I have had fun watching Austin Collie this year. I am sure you are going to enjoy watching Bell play regardless of where he ends up.

The reward is that you know in yourself that you are getting better at identifying talent. Probably a better measure is reducing the number of bad pimps we make. Now that is a real challenge.
Ain't that the truth!!!!
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Old 01-30-2010, 09:26 PM   #7
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Default Re: Wayne State's Joique Bell stands out among All-Stars at Senior Bowl

at the senior bowl or senior bowl practice?

at the bowl he didn't do much of anything to stand out. 8 carries for 17 yards(11 longest).
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Old 01-30-2010, 09:32 PM   #8
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Default Re: Wayne State's Joique Bell stands out among All-Stars at Senior Bowl

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at the senior bowl or senior bowl practice?

at the bowl he didn't do much of anything to stand out. 8 carries for 17 yards(11 longest).
He apparently shined the brightest in practices.

I guess the games don't really mean much? I liked watching a bunch of guys, but from what I heard, most scouts and coaches leave around the third day.
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Old 01-31-2010, 03:49 AM   #9
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Default Re: Wayne State's Joique Bell stands out among All-Stars at Senior Bowl

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He apparently shined the brightest in practices.

I guess the games don't really mean much? I liked watching a bunch of guys, but from what I heard, most scouts and coaches leave around the third day.
Hopefully those scouts that left early dont go back and watch the game. Doesnt bode well for Tebow if that is the case. By all reports LeFevour looked better.
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Old 01-31-2010, 07:48 AM   #10
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Default Re: Wayne State's Joique Bell stands out among All-Stars at Senior Bowl

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at the senior bowl or senior bowl practice?

at the bowl he didn't do much of anything to stand out. 8 carries for 17 yards(11 longest).
Hopefully he is laying down so we will have a shot at him.
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