When Blake Bell was deciding where to play college football while a Bishop Carroll senior in 2010, he chose Oklahoma because of its tradition.
Now it is looking like he will be the quarterback in charge of making sure that tradition continues.
Returning home to Wichita on Wednesday night at the Hyatt Regency as part of the Sooner Caravan, Bell said he will be ready for the challenge as a redshirt junior this fall.
“Following Landry (Jones), he did a great job commanding the offense, but I think I’m right there,” Bell told reporters before the event. “I’ve got to get better this summer and things of that nature. But by the season, hopefully a lot of us are ready to go.”
Bell was joined by OU tight end Brannon Greene — another Kansas native — as well as coach Bob Stoops on Wednesday night.
Although Bell is regarded as the frontrunner to replace Jones, Stoops refused to make such a proclamation. He insists the race is still open between Bell, sophomore Kendal Thompson and redshirt freshman Trevor Knight.
“We have a really strong track record through the years of developing quarterbacks individually to be team players and to be leaders and to be championship-caliber quarterbacks,” Stoops told the crowd of around 150.
“We never recruit a guy to run the ball. That is not what we do. We recruit a guy first to throw the football, so you’ll see Blake throw more this season.”
Through his first two seasons at OU, Bell has more rushing touchdowns (24) than passing attempts (20).
Bell showed a live arm in his senior season at Carroll, but he found his niche as a Sooner in a “Belldozer” package that utilized his athleticism and 6-foot-6, 265-pound frame to plow ahead for short-yardage conversions.
It may be new for OU fans to see Bell drop back and throw the ball, but it’s something he’s always felt comfortable doing.
“That wasn’t my job last year,” Bell said. “Landry was the quarterback and I did whatever I could to help the team and that was to come in short yardage and get the first down. This year we’ll see what we can do now.”
It won’t be anything new to fans who saw Bell lead Carroll to 11 wins as a high school senior, but his father, Mark, said OU fans will be pleasantly surprised by Blake’s abilities in the pocket.
“You’ll see when a game is on the line, Blake will make a play,” said Mark Bell, a former NFL offensive lineman. “He can move the chains. He can do it all. A lot of people have only seen him run. I think they’re going to be surprised by how he can sling the ball, too.”
Stoops said that Bell’s presence extends beyond the football field.
“He has the respect in the locker room,” Stoops said. “The guys love him and that goes a long ways.”
Three years ago, Bell decided he wanted to take command of a program like OU.
Now his time is here.
“It’s fun,” Bell said. “You’ve got to keep it fun. There’s enough nerve-wracking things that go on out there when you’re playing in front of 85,000, so you have to keep it fun now.”