published Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

Vols’ Derek Dooley gives Vonn Bell a call, offer

  • photo
    UT football coach Derek Dooley talks to the media at Neyland Stadium.
    Photo by Angela Lewis /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Ridgeland High School star safety Vonn Bell got another phone call from another high-profile SEC football coach Thursday.

A day after speaking with Alabama’s Nick Saban and receiving a scholarship offer from the national champion Crimson Tide, Bell got a scholarship offer from Tennessee’s Derek Dooley on Thursday. Bell, who grew up a UT fan, was excited about the offer. He also has a scholarship offer from Georgia.

Bell did not commit to Dooley but sounded excited about his options.

The offer came a few hours after a Times Free Press story reported that Alabama had made an offer to Bell, a 6-foot-1, 190-pounder who had 119 tackles, intercepted five passes, caused three fumbles and returned three of his five fumble recoveries for touchdowns in the 2011 season. Bell also had 31 catches for 487 yards and six other TDs. During offseason workouts, Ridgeland coach Mark Mariakis said Bell, the Times Free Press defensive player of the year, was timed in 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

Several attempts by Mariakis to contact UT coaches had been unsuccessful until Thursday.

The lack of correspondence from Knoxville was frustrating for Mariakis, who said UT was one of the 20-plus schools to whom he sent video. He said he had called the Volunteers’ football offices twice but didn’t heard back until a UT assistant called the high school Thursday and handed the phone to Dooley.

about Stephen Hargis...

Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 24 years, having been with the Times Free Press since its inception, and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards, including seven in 2013 and a combined 12 in the last two years. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers ...

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