The sophomore, a five-star prospect in the class of 2013 who picked Ohio State on National Signing Day, has been a playmaking machine in the early days of fall camp. He had an interception on Wednesday when the media was present and made another in a video produced by Ohio State wrapping up Friday’s practice (see the 1:20 mark).
Time will tell whether that ability will make Bell able to outdistance either Cameron Burrows or Tyvis Powell in the battle to earn the two starting safety spots at OSU, but it’s fair to say Bell is going in with some confidence.
“I’m being Vonn Bell,” he told BuckeyeSports.com when asked about his early interceptions. “That’s it I call it. I call it the VBA – Vonn Bell Academy. I’ll make plays for you. I’m going to show passion, I’m going to show emotion in this game. I really love being around it. I just love football.”
Bell said he came up with the idea for the academy a year ago when he first arrived at OSU and played mostly special teams until making his starting debut in the Orange Bowl against Clemson. In that game, he made perhaps the most impressive defensive play of the season, leaping to make a spectacular interception of Clemson QB Tajh Boyd near the goal line in the first half (perhaps he can teach a class called One-Handed Picks 101).
And if his teammates make the same type of plays, he’ll gladly let them into his society.
“I tell people if they make plays, I’ll let them into it,” he said. “There you go, we can have a whole chapter. I can only invite you because I’m the owner and the chairman.”
One player who likely hopes to get an invite is Powell, who knows something about big plays himself.
“Vonn just has a natural ability to make plays,” Powell said at the team move-in last Thursday.
The nation’s No. 2 safety in the class of 2013 coming out of Rossville (Ga.) Ridgeland, Bell played in all 14 games last year and made 19 tackles on the campaign, including seven in the Orange Bowl while playing as the nickel back in the team’s defense.
“It really opened my eyes,” Bell said of the game against the Tigers. “It opened up the coaches’ eyes with my ability to make plays and everything, so I’m very thankful for that.”
The 5-11, 200-pounder was dealt a blow this spring when he suffered a torn MCL in Ohio State’s first spring practice, an injury that ended his spring before it began. It appears he’s making up for lost time this fall, but he knows a starting role won’t just be handed to him as he competes to be ready for the Navy game.
“It’s pretty good competition,” Bell said. “I’m just very blessed to be a part of it. There’s some good guys out here. We’re at The Ohio State University, so there’s going to be competition anywhere you go.”