FAYETTEVILLE — During last Saturday’s spring football scrimmage the Arkansas Razorbacks offense did not have to ask for whom the Bell tolls.
He tolled on them. Jamario Bell, the 6-5, 247 4-star prospect out of Junction City when signed by former Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema’s Razorbacks regime in 2015, flashed 5-star statistics as the Razorbacks of new Coach Chad Morris waged their first scrimmage of the spring.
Now a defensive end in the 4-3 scheme that new yet veteran defensive coordinator John Chavis brought with him from coordinating SEC defenses since 1995 at Tennessee, LSU and Texas A&M, Bell excelled with five tackles including a scrimmage leading three sacks. On one sack, quick whistled, he stripped the ball from the quarterback.
Given Bell’s Razorbacks history, he redshirted on defense in 2015, wasted 2016 as a tight end never budged from the bench behind Bielema’s army of tight ends, and then upon finally just emerging as 3-4 scheme outside linebacker in preseason 2017, was drafted into the broken foot army of Razorbacks missing seasons with foot injuries these past few years, Bell’s Saturday scrimmage especially stood out. He was the first defensive player that Morris cited during the head coach’s scrimmage summation to media.
“I thought Jamario Bell, think he had a strip sack, scoop and score or whatever it might’ve been. He keeps showing up and it’s good to see. This is a guy that has all the physical tools. We’ve just gotta keep bringing him along.”
Given Bell’s previous frustrations, it seems the arrival of a new staff with Chavis and new but veteran defensive ends coach Steve Caldwell, the defensive ends coach for Chavis at Tennessee and Arkansas’ defensive ends coach in 2011 and 2012 under Bobby Petrino and John L. Smith, provides a new lease on his football life.
“Whether it’s a fresh start or not, I don’t know,” Morris said. “But sometimes guys when you come in and they get a fresh start, it just has a whole breath of fresh air for them and he’s out to prove something. If he’s able to do that and provide some depth in that defensive line for us with Coach Caldwell and Coach (John) Scott (the defensive line coach last season now coaching defensive tackles) it’ll definitely be an addition for this football team.”
Morris was asked about Bell’s attitude upon the new regime’s arrival.
“First of all, every time I’ve seen him, he shows up and has a smile on his face,” Morris said. “He’s always trying to say something to me before I say something to him. He comes in the building with a great attitude, comes in the building with an eagerness about himself and it’s shown. It’s shown out on the football field and it has for the last five practices.”
Chavis, the veteran, isn’t going to lobby for an Outland Trophy based on one scrimmage. But he did acknowledge approval.
“Obviously his athletic ability is a little better than I anticipated,” Chavis said. “He’s starting to show up a lot. And so are a bunch of other kids.”
Of course the ultimate proof will be if Bell can excel and stay healthy when scrimmages evolve into the games that count next fall.
“We need him,” Morris said. “We need him to come on and be the guy that he was recruited to be.”
QB: Ty Storey OR Cole Kelley | Daulton Hyatt |Carson Proctor OR Austin Aune
RB: Devwah Whaley | Maleek Williams | Chase Hayden | TJ Hammonds
TE: Jeremy Patton | Austin Cantrell | CJ O’Grady | Will Gragg
WR: Jonathan Nance | Tyson Morris | Michael Woods
WR: La’Michael Pettway | Brandon Martin | Jordan Jones
WR: De’Vion Warren | Deon Stewart | Gary Cross
LT: Colton Jackson | Shane Clenin
LG: Hjalte Froholdt | Kirby Adcock
C: Dylan Hays | Ty Clary | Audry Horn
RG: Jalen Merrick OR Johnny Gibson |
RT: Brian Wallace | Tyler Hall
DE: McTelvin Agim/Michael Taylor II/David Porter/Elias Hale
NG: Jonathan Marshall/Armon Watts/Deion Malone
DT: T.J. Smith/Jake Hall/Isaiah Nichols
DE: Randy Ramsey/Gabe Richardson/Jamario Bell/Damani Carter
WLB: Dre Greenlaw/Dee Walker/Alexy Jean-Baptiste (OR) Giovanni LaFrance/Kyrei Fisher (OR) Tyler Phillips
MLB: De’Jon Harris/Grant Morgan/Bumper Pool/Terrell Collins
SLB/NICKEL: Derrick Munson/D’Vone McClure/Deon Edwards (OR) Hayden Henry
CB: Ryan Pulley/Britto Tutt/Byron Keaton
CB: Chevin Calloway/Nate Dalton/Jordon Curtis
FS: Santos Ramirez/Montaric Brown/Ryder Lucas (OR) Matt Berry
SS: Kamren Curl/Micahh Smith/Jayden Menchew