With National Signing Day less than a week away, the rush of coaches trying to sway Ridgeland High All-America safety Vonn Bell is reaching its peak. Coaches from all three of Bell’s finalists — Alabama, Ohio State and Tennessee — are scheduled to be in town Thursday to make their final pitch for his signature.
College coaches are not allowed to have contact with recruits after this weekend, giving prospects a three-day period of silence to make their decision before Wednesday morning. The head coaches from Bell’s finalists have already used their one allotted personal visit with Bell, but assistants from all three of his finalists will meet with him Thursday.
Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Everett Withers was at Ridgeland on Thursday morning and left campus to meet with Bell’s father, Vincent, at his job.
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Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart and new defensive backs coach Greg Brown were expected on campus to meet with Bell on Thursday afternoon.
Tennessee head coach Butch Jones, who brought his entire defensive staff for an in-home visit with Bell last week, will meet with Ridgeland head coach Mark Mariakis for dinner Thursday evening.
“We didn’t get to spend any time together when he was in town last week,” Mariakis said. “He said he just wanted to discuss the direction he’s taking the program.
“For him to call and say he wanted to sit down with me for dinner and begin building a relationship is impressive. It’s something that hadn’t been done before with previous UT staffs, so for him to take time out of his busy schedule just to meet with me says a lot about him.”
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 ...