Of the seven Florida verbal commitments that competed in The Opening this past weekend, no one improved their stock more than Tre’ Bell (Jersey City, N.J./St. Peters Prep).
The four-star cornerback, who was the only UF commit in attendance that isn’t an ESPN150 member, put on a stellar showing at the elite combine.
Bell made two interceptions and broke up several passes for his ‘Super Bad’ team, which won the 7-on-7 tournament Sunday.
“It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Bell said. “I went all the way out to Oregon and won the championship. It was amazing. I got to workout with Joe Haden, Patrick Peterson and Darrelle Revis. So I had a really great time.”
Bell “turned a few heads” and was one of standout players according to ESPN National Recruiting Director Tom Luginbill.
In May 2011, Bell was named the defensive backs MVP at the Rutgers Nike Football Training Camp as a sophomore. This past spring he participated in another Nike event and got invited to The Opening.
But prior to this past weekend, Bell hadn’t taken part in any other combines during his high school career and felt many underrated him because of that.
He believes those days are behind him.
“I think people will start giving me respect now,” Bell said. “I’ve never been camp crazy. So I go out there all the time with a chip on my shoulder and try to put it all out on the field. I know what I can do, I just have to show everybody when I get opportunities like the one in Oregon.”
Joining Bell on the title team was fellow Florida commit Keanu Neal. The Bushnell South Sumter safety also made his fair share of stops in the secondary for Super Bad, including the last play of the championship game where he stepped in front USC quarterback commit Max Browne’s final throw and forced an incompletion in the end zone to seal the win.
“It was very exciting to play with Keanu,” Bell said. “I kind of figured I was going to be teammates with one of those guys because there were so many of us there. But to be teamed up with Keanu, I felt like it would be great with us both being defensive backs and it definitely was. When Keanu broke that last pass up, I was so happy.”
Rivals.com recruiting analyst Chris Nee said he expects Neal to get a bump in the Rivals250 after his performance at The Opening. He currently holds the last spot in the rankings at No. 250 overall as opposed to No. 65 in the ESPN150.
How the other five from Florida fared
Belle Glades running back Kelvin Taylor and Crescent City defensive tackle Caleb Brantley — Florida’s highest ranked commits on ESPN — were also among the players that stood out to Luginbill.
He wrote that while Taylor’s greatest talent is his downhill running style, he showed that he has the skills to contribute out of the backfield as a receiver.
Taylor, rated No. 1 at his position by ESPN, only had two receptions last season for Glades Day. However, the pair of catches averaged 33.0 yards per play and one went for a touchdown.
Here was Luginbill assessment of Brantley, who was named the top 2013 defensive tackle at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge in late April.
“Very explosive and accounted well for himself … His main issue is that he tries too hard for the flash plays on occasion. He is good enough to win a lot of battles with explosion, size and power, but he gets himself in trouble when he tries to be flashy. Brantley has all the tools and once he learns how to better use those tools watch out.”
Jacksonville Trinity Christian commit Nick Washington wasn’t tested much from his safety spot, but his interception in round one of the 7-on-7 tournament secured a win for his Alpha Talon team (which Taylor was on as well).
Washington’s close friend, Jacksonville Bishop Kenny receiver Ahmad Fulwood, also didn’t have many balls thrown his way. But when he did, the 6-foot-4 wideout came down with some incredible catches and finished the tournament with two touchdowns.
Daytona Beach Mainland commit Quinton Powell, who earned his trip to The Opening by winning linebacker MVP at the Orlando Nike Football Training Camp, showed once again he can move well in space and make plays in coverage.
Powell said he and his future teammates delivered a strong statement in Oregon.
“We’re all great athletes and we proved that we have the ability to perform well in crunch time and compete against the best players in the nation,” Powell said. “We’re not just hyped-up recruits that are only rated high because we’re committed to Florida. We can play with the best and beat them.”
News & Notes
* ESPN150 defensive end Ebenzer Ogundeko (Brooklyn, N.Y./Thomas Jefferson) pushed back his decision and will now announce his commitment on July 24. His finalists are Florida, Notre Dame and Syracuse.
* ESPN150 athlete Levonte Whitfield (Orlando, Fla./Jones) named his top six over the weekend and Florida made the cut along with Clemson, Florida State, Miami, Ohio State and West Virginia. The 5-foot-9, 170-pounder ran the 40-yard dash in 4.37 seconds at The Opening.
* In addition to Haden, former Gator offensive linemen Maurkice and Mike Pouncey also coached in the combine.
All photos by Nike and Daniel Root Photography LLC.