Bell primed for sophomore season at A&T

WHEELING — Elijah Bell prides himself more on winning than personal numbers. The Wheeling Park grad, however, has produced a lot of both during his still-evolving football career.

The 6-1, 221-pound wide receiver helped lead Park to the Class AAA West Virginia state football crown in 2015, marking the first in Patriots’ history.

Bell topped the state that season with 1,214 receiving yards and 17 TDs. In the process, he was accorded the Randy Moss Award, given annually to the top wide receiver in the state. He was also named the USA Today Offensive Player of the Year for West Virginia.

Bell now enters his sophomore season at North Carolina A&T on the heels of a superb frosh campaign, one in which he was named Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year and second-team all MEAC.

Those accolades came on the strength of his 35 catches for 631 yards and 8 TDs. He led the MEAC in yards per catch (18.03). His efforts helped the Aggies to a 9-3 record.

“I felt like I performed well last year and helped my team when my number was called. I also felt like I could have done better,” Bell said. “There is never a max limit, nothing’s good enough with me when it comes to the game of football. There is always room for improvement. I am looking forward to this season.”

His goals for this season are team-oriented.

“My individual goals for this season is to just do whatever it takes to help my team win, whether it’s blocking or catching touchdowns,” Bell said. “I want to win. I have been part of winning teams my entire life. I hate losing more than I like winning.

“Whatever accolades come with winning I’ll take and look to improve every Saturday,” he added. “I don’t know how long I’ll have football, so I have to take advantage of every opportunity.”

After his sparkling collegiate debut, Bell is primed for an encore performance.

“Having a year experience already under my belt gives me more confidence because I know everything about this level of football, especially mentally. I know a lot more now than when I came in as a true freshman,” Bell offered. “I believe we have some of the best coaches in the country and they got me and this team prepared for every obstacle we’re gonna face this year.”

North Carolina A&T embarks on its new season Saturday night at Gardner-Webb. Bell is confident more winning is in the offing for the Aggies.

“Our team goals will be the same every year. They are to win our conference and be the national champions of HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities). We settle for nothing less,” the Sports Science and Leisure Studies major said. “Our head coach says winning doesn’t come easy so we must come prepared and play like its our last game, giving 100 percent effort. I wouldn’t want to go to war with anyone else.”

I had the chance to see and talk with Bell several times over the course of the summer while he played pick-up basketball at St. John Central. He was a sculpted 230 pounds at that time.

I honestly believe he has the physical tools and strong mental makeup to be on an NFL roster after his collegiate career.

BUBBA’S BITS

THE U.S. Tennis Open commenced Monday. I am picking Rafael Nadal and Garbine Muguruza capture the respective titles.

STEUBENVILLE CENTRAL has been one of the premier softball programs in the OVAC. The Crusaders are in the market for a new head coach as longtime skipper Jim DiCarlo has yielded the post.

WHEN OHIO State kicks off its season Thursday night at Indiana much of the spotlight will be on Buckeyes’ offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson. The former Hoosier head coach is one of the best when in charge of an offense. He did wonders at Oklahoma many years ago. Look for Ohio State’s attack to take on a more aggressive and deep-threat look this fall.

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