- Brandon Chatmon, ESPN Staff Writer
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During summer, ESPN.com is taking a closer look at each scholarship player on Oklahoma’s roster in our Crimson Countdown series. Each day, we analyze each player’s impact on the program since arriving on campus, his potential impact this fall, and his long-term projection. Starting with No. 1 Dominique Alexander, the series follows the roster numerically through No. 98 Chuka Ndulue.
No. 10 Blake Bell, tight end, 6-foot-6, 258 pounds, senior
Impact thus far: Bell has had an interesting and productive career. After a redshirt season in 2010, Bell became an contributor in 2011, earning the moniker the “Belldozer” while scoring 13 rushing touchdowns as OU’s short yardage specialist. in 2012 he continued his role, scoring 11 rushing touchdowns. In 2013, Bell finally got his chance to play quarterback and run the Sooners’ regular offense. He started eight games, finishing with 1,648 passing yards, 12 touchdowns and five interceptions. Interestingly enough, he did not score a rushing touchdown as a junior. Bell has played in 31 games (eight starts) and accounted for 36 touchdowns in an OU uniform.
Impact in 2014: With Trevor Knight locking down the starting quarterback job in the Sugar Bowl, Bell made the move to tight end in January, deciding to stay in Norman, Okla., instead of transferring to play quarterback elsewhere. He has the size and athleticism to help the Sooners at the tight end spot as a senior if he makes a smooth transition to his new position.
Long term upside: If everything goes perfectly for Bell, he could become the Sooners top pass-catching tight end since Jermaine Gresham. But that requires him excelling as a blocker, getting comfortable running patterns and, most important, proving he is one of the best 11 players available to put on the field for offensive coordinator Josh Heupel.
Evaluation grade for Bell: B. This is a tough one. Bell is poised to be a major contributor for the fourth straight season. Yet he never became an consistent difference-maker as a dual-threat quarterback, which is why he was recruited in the first place. Nonetheless you can’t discount Bell’s positive impact on the program. He’s helped OU win a lot of games during his four years on campus.
Development grade for Bell: B. Another tough grade, but there’s not much more the Sooners could have done to help Bell’s development other than give him more time running the regular offense as a freshman and sophomore. Nonetheless it was a stroke of genius to put his size, strength and desire in the short-yardage package when he would have just been sitting on the sideline behind Landry Jones as a underclassman.
Quotable: “Blake has done a great job, we’re very fortunate to have him there and he’s fit in very nicely with our guys. He’s really excelled and he brings an athlete, which is what we’ve always said we need, we need blockers, we need guys who can run down the field and make plays on the ball and Blake can do that.” -- tight ends coach Jay Boulware
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