Wichita (Kan.) Bishop Carroll four-star quarterback Blake Bell may not have played on the floor of the Cotton Bowl just yet but he has already butted heads with Texas' current Heisman finalist Colt McCoy. During his recent Elite 11 performance the two had a chance to meet and the star Longhorn was well aware of who the 6-foot-6, 220-pound Bell was.
"He kept calling me the 'Oklahoma guy', he is a good guy. He is real down to earth too," Bell said. "But yeah, he was giving me crap the whole camp but it was good-natured.
"It was a blast, you hear about all these guys on Rivals and all these other sites, and you get 12 quarterbacks and see what they are all about. When you have all these different quarterbacks; some guys are better at this, or better at that. It was cool just meeting them and what they like to do and just getting to know them.
While he certainly enjoyed his chance to work with McCoy and fellow Sooner rival Zac Robinson of Oklahoma State it may have been his time in Hawaii for the Super Seven that really was his moment in the sun, literally.
"When I went to the Super 7, we actually woke up about 7 in the morning, ate some breakfast. And the pineapple, I mean if you've been to Hawaii you know what the fruit is like there. From nine to noon we didn't throw that much. We had a lot of guys working on taking five-step, seven-step drops. We didn't really throw that much, had a station of chalk work," he recalled.
"After noon, we were on the beach and enjoying it, it was just a fun vacation. Also five of the seven went to the Elite 11 so to get to know those guys and then see them a week later was pretty cool."
Many of those same players helped him see some of the things he needs to work on as a player.
"You go to these places, you see different mechanics, different throwing angles. It's how you throw," he said. "Just a couple of tips you can pick up from some of the guys, Jake Heaps has great footwork you can learn something from him. Everybody has something different they bring to the table."
One player he got to know well was San Diego State commitment, Tyler Bray, who was his roommate at the Elite 11. And while in their dorm room it must have felt like a before and after picture for Bell.
At this time last year Bell was a former receiver who stood at 6-foot-6, and 190-pounds but in a year's time has put on roughly 30-pounds and has worked hard to keep his previous athleticism.
"I'm big in the weight room. Like everyone else we've got conditioning and I've been trying to put some pounds on. I was tired of being that 6-foot-6, 195-pound guy," he said. "Right now my weight is about 220-pounds, this season I'm going to try to weigh around 225-pounds."
It seems that hard work has more than paid off as Bell recently went through his team's off-season testing and set a couple of marks, one of which even he was shocked by.
"I broke three records, my 40-yard dash. I ran a 4.59 which was a record for our heavyweight class," Bell explained how a quarterback could be in such a weight class. "I was in the heavyweight division because if you are past 220-pounds you are on heavyweight.
"In the 300-yard shuttle, I did it in 54-seconds and this next one you aren't going to believe me.
"But my coaches, they got together and they all said it was right. I vertical jumped at 37-inches. Even I couldn't believe it. I had not been working on it in particular or anything, I jumped a 30 or 31 last year and this year I just stretched out and jumped"
Of course during the summer he also did some more focused learning when he took part in Oklahoma's camp and had a chance to work with Oklahoma's rising star of a quarterbacks coach, Josh Heupel.
Bell admits he has a lot to learn about playing the position with only one year of real competition under center he says that Heupel wasn't too tough on him about the things he needs to work on.
"I would say since I've only played one year. I mean I've got my coach at my high school but I haven't really had a quarterback coach," he said. "Coach Heupel was just trying to tell me more stuff on ball position and footwork. Things like open that toe, get your hips around just working on repetition.
"He'll even say things like, he is working with Drew Allen about snapping it off, Sam did the same stuff. He was telling me don't worry about too much stuff right now, we'll get you on campus and get it sorted out."
Bell has put in all this work with hopes of providing another big season for Carroll.
"This year they have some kind of rule change. They switched it up here, you can do more stuff in the summer so the coaches can be out there watching," he said. "We had 7-on-7 in a league around here and about five schools but that's over now.
"I'm excited for the season. We lost a couple of my good receivers, Joe, and Nick and lost some of my big O-lineman but I've got a lot of guys that played last year but they didn't get to play all the time. I've got some sleepers, I'm excited to get that offensive line going, getting the chemistry.
"As an individual I do have goals, I set certain goals last year. I mean I wanted to pass for certain numbers. Since I had not played quarterback I set them high but not too high so obviously I kind of blew those out of the water. But yeah I have things in my head that I'll try to get to these numbers, passing yardage, touchdowns. But obviously mainly it's just about what I can do to get a 'W' on Friday.
"I worry about how am I going to make the guys around me better."