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Hair now, gone in a hurry: Bell's speed spices up Tech receiving corps

JUCO transfer picks up pace after lackluster spring

Posted: August 12, 2012 - 11:27pm  |  Updated: August 13, 2012 - 12:04am
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Receiver Javon Bell is arguably the fastest player on the Red Raiders' football roster.  Stephen Spillman
Stephen Spillman
Receiver Javon Bell is arguably the fastest player on the Red Raiders' football roster.
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On a team with nine players who regularly sport dreadlocks, no one wears them longer than Javon Bell. Given much more freedom to grow, they could soon blot out the number “1” the Texas Tech receiver wears on the back of his jersey.

“Where I come from, Jacksonville, Florida, a lot of people have dreads,” Bell said. “That’s what I’m accustomed to. That’s all I know. I like my hair.”

Texas Tech cornerback Bruce Jones got a good look at it Saturday. Jones was giving chase when Bell ran a deep sideline route and caught a 65-yard touchdown pass behind him during the Red Raiders’ first preseason scrimmage at Jones AT&T Stadium.

Cornerbacks in the Mississippi small-school ranks know that view, because Bell caught 27 touchdown passes the last two years for Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.

Bell was so good in junior college – a first-team NJCAA all-American two years ago, a second-team choice last year – defenders might have been tempted to just give his hair a yank to hold him down.

“A lot of people grab my dreads,” Bell said. “Most of the time it doesn’t affect me. It just makes me madder, and I just go out there and perform and try to go harder to score on them.”

After what everyone agrees was an uninspiring spring showing, the mid-term signee picked it up in the first week of August workouts. In a crowded field of Red Raiders’ receivers, what sticks out about Bell is his speed. It doesn’t hurt that he’s 6-foot and can high jump 6-7.

But the ability to outrun defenders comes in handy when he’s sent deep or when he’s catching short passes and trying to dodge the first tackler or two.

“He can do both,” Tech offensive coordinator Neal Brown said. “He’s practiced really well. He’s probably practiced better than any of them so far. He can accelerate. He can make plays down the field.

“Through five practices, he looks like what we recruited. Last spring, I was sitting there going, ‘Man, this doesn’t look like the kid I saw on video.’”

The Red Raiders’ workouts in February and March threw Bell for a loop. He’d been in a hurry-up offense before, but not one as fast as Tech’s. The scheme was more complex than he was used to as well. He needed time to learn the plays and the signals.

He says he got better at getting off the line, reading coverage and running routes, though.

“It got a lot easier for me, and I gained a lot,” Bell said.

Last week, impressed by Bell’s start to the preseason, Tech coach Tommy Tuberville said Bell was as fast as player on the field. Still, even with what he’s shown, Bell can’t afford to backslide. The Red Raiders have three solid options at flanker with Darrin Moore, Bradley Marquez and Bell and three choices at split end in Eric Ward, Marcus Kennard and Derreck Edwards.

From that bunch, Brown wants to use five: a two-deep on each side, plus a swing man who can play both.

Bell finished Saturday’s scrimmage with three catches for 80 yards, but the other flankers were impressive, too. Marquez caught passes for 46 and 39 yards, the latter a touchdown. Moore, taking advantage of his size and ball skills the way he did early last year, made a leaping, 24-yard catch over Jeremy Reynolds and later drew an interference penalty from the same cornerback.

Brown said after the spring that someone in the group of outside receivers could redshirt, but Bell is eager to play after waiting so long to get to Division I. He signed out of high school with South Carolina, not far from his Jacksonville home, but didn’t make the academic requirements.

That’s why he spent the last two years in Perkinston, Miss., catching 111 passes for 2,252 yards for Mississippi Gulf Coast.

“It was a blessing for me to take that route,” Bell said. “I learned a lot of things. I saw a lot of new things. I met a lot of good people and learned a whole bunch from different coaches and perfected stuff they taught me. The position I’m in now, I’m excited to play and show people that I’m here now.”



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I think Kennard should redshirt. We need senior leadership next year & we need him to lead the younger guys like Wheeler & Davis next season.


hey runninsked

the new head coach may have some different ideas for next year.


new coach?

keep dreaming. I bet you're praying for it



Theres another miserable, embarassing season, mark me down as "praying for it". Otherwise, Im praying for a great season, united fan base, national tv, winning records, with a bowl win. You know, like we had before.


@bill214 & coyote

Stop it! Just stop with the nonsense. Both of you are acting very immature. Almost everyone agrees this is the make or break season for Tuberville. This is not a political blog. This the site for Red Raider Football & if you dont support the head coach you dont support the team.



I got no problem with that. Never said I didnt support Tuberville. Just illustrated the results to this point (all fact). Some seem to have a problem with others pointing out that, thus far, the performance has not been what we are used to at Texas Tech. The vast majority of the Hance people see the need to take this venue to a personal insult level, Runnin, and youve seen that. They have little other to hang their hat on. I support Tuberville regardless of his performance thus far because to support him is to support the kids.



A breakout season will unite the fanbase like it was.



I liked it much better a few years ago when all the personal insults were aimed at the UT tshirt fans. Dont see any of that these days. I hope youre right.

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