As noted on Monday, it is not often that high school kickers or punters get a scholarship offer from the Division I ranks. But finding a versatile special teams' player like Warren Central (Miss.) High School's Devon Bell will help Mississippi State fill a few needs in the kicking game, said Bell's head coach.
"I know Devon is a guy that can do several things in the kicking game," said Warren Central head coach Josh Morgan, a former Mississippi State defensive back. "He can punt, kick off and kick field goals and that is what made him a very sought-after player. He has a powerful leg and is a big kid and just a good athlete.
"He also pitches for our baseball team and even plays some tight end and quarterback for us. So he is a good athlete that can do a lot of things. As far as his kicking abilities, he has a very bright future because of his strong leg and his work ethic."
And it didn't take long for Morgan to notice Bell's strong attributes to their kicking game.
"To be honest, I first noticed him in the eighth grade," said Morgan. "Every time we were at the field house, he was always up there with a bag full of balls and was kicking every day. And he still does that today. In the eighth grade in junior high games, he was already kicking the ball from one sideline past the other sideline."
Last year Bell averaged over 40 yards a punt and also put the majority of his kickoffs in the end zone for touchbacks. Naturally, said Morgan, that is a valuable weapon to have on Friday nights.
"Having a great punter can change field positions and get you out of a lot of holes," noted Morgan. "The biggest thing with Devon, though, is his kickoffs and putting the ball in the end zone. He is very consistent doing that and put close to 80 percent of his kickoffs in the end zone. That is a huge weapon to have and it keeps you from kicking to those athletes that are so dangerous. Having offenses start off at the 20-yard line is such a big benefit and the way Devon changes field position in a game speaks volumes."
As noted, Morgan also played in the SEC and obviously has a good idea of what it takes to play in that conference. And he sees no reason why Bell won't succeed at the next level.
"Potential-wise, it looks very good for Devon in the SEC," said Morgan. "He has a good head on his shoulders and I know Mississippi State is where he wanted to be. He really has unlimited potential that will help him make an instant impact at Mississippi State.
"As far as pressure goes, he always handles pressure very well and thrives on pressure as good as anybody. His size and strength helps him out a lot and he works so hard in the weight room, too. I know Devon will do very good things for Mississippi State."