Oklahoma coaches were crowing four years ago about the signing of Blake Bell, considered one of the nation's top 10 quarterbacks. Wednesday afternoon, it was revealed that Bell is moving to tight end with the Sooners after starting eight games at quarterback in 2013.
Bell (6-foot-6, 252 pounds), who will be a fifth-year senior in the fall, is a prime example of a highly touted high school player who can't match the hype in college. But he also is an example of a player who has gone from having zero NFL hope to one who now becomes an intriguing prospect because of a position change.
He has excellent size for a tight end and was known as a mobile quarterback. If he can show he can catch and block, next year at this time he will be getting ready to head to the NFL Scouting Combine.
"I think it's a great fit," Sooners coach Bob Stoops said of Bell at tight end during a signing-day news conference. "He has size and athleticism."
Stoops also said "I don't see why it would be difficult for him" to change positions.
While Oklahoma has made frequent use of the tight end in the past, Sooners tight ends combined for just three catches during the '13 season and none started a game.
Bell never developed into the prototype pocket passer he was expected to be out of Wichita (Kan.) Bishop Carroll high school. Bell has 12 touchdown passes in his OU career, and they all came during the '13 season, when he moved into the starting role after Trevor Knight was injured in the second game of the season. But Bell also has 24 rushing TDs in his career (oddly enough, none came in '13), and he frequently was used in short-yardage situations by the Sooners. He picked up the "Belldozer" nickname for his role.
Knight, who had a huge performance in OU's upset of Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, will start at quarterback for the Sooners in the fall. Knight (6-1, 201) was a redshirt freshman this season and played in eight games -- 348 of his 819 career passing yards and four of his nine career TD passes came against the Tide. His backup likely will be redshirt freshman Cody Thomas, who was a national top-100 recruit in '13 out of Colleyville (Texas) Heritage, the same prep alma mater as the Minnesota Vikings' Christian Ponder.