“I’m Taking It Day By Day, Keeping The Faith” | FAMU’s Tenacious Safety Markquese Bell Set To Realize NFL Dream

(Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)

 

The NFL draft is next week, and for the first time in what seems like ages, the expectation is that a few players from HBCUs will have their names called. One of those players expected to be drafted is FAMU Rattlers defensive enforcer Markquese Bell. 

Bell is a hard-hitting strong safety with great range and length. He performed well in his pre-draft workouts, including at the Rattlers’ pro day in late March.

Bell raised his draft stock on that day and did nothing to dispel the notion that he not only will be drafted but could help an NFL team right away, maybe even as a starter in the right defensive scheme. The Rattlers haven’t had a player selected in the NFL draft since 2013. Bell is looking to change that next week.

“I feel pretty good, I feel like I’ve prepared myself to be in the position I am in today,” Bell said at his pro day interview. “I am taking it day by day, keeping the faith, and hopefully they will call my name on one of those [draft days]. If not, I will get on a team to show what I can do.”

Bell Is One Of Four HBCU Players Who Attended NFL Combine

Bell was chosen as one of four elite players from HBCUs to perform at the NFL Combine early last month in Indianapolis. He flashed incredible athletic gifts, posting a 4.45 in the 40-yard dash. He also measured out at 6 feet 2 and 215 pounds, with long arms that scouts describe as “vines.” 

This past season he led the Rattlers with 95 tackles with his physical in-the-box style.

But he can also cover, as he led the MEAC in interceptions in 2019 with five. The main criticism of Bell is his lack of flexibility and at times coverage in space.

A sound NFL defensive coordinator could mask Bell’s particular weaknesses with schemes and disguises at times. The issues with his flexibility can be attributed to playing too stiff, as he’s usually around the line of scrimmage. That can be coached up and fixed.

Bell Began His Career At Maryland: Transferred Following Suspension

In 2017, Bell, a four-star recruit was the Maryland Terrapins’ third-highest-rated commit in a class that featured eight four-star commits in total. But things didn’t go as planned for the New Jersey native, as he was suspended for violating the student-athlete code of conduct as a freshman. 

While suspended Bell decided to transfer, and at the time of his decision to leave, then UMD-head coach D.J. Durkin had nothing but glowing reports for him. 

“Markquese is no longer a member of this team or the university,” Durkin said. “I think Markquese is an outstanding young man, and I wish him nothing but the full best moving forward.”

At the time of Bell’s commitment to Maryland, Durkin envisioned him as an NFL safety. That may come to fruition in eight to 10 days. 

 

FAMU Head Coach Willie Simmons Raves About Bell: Leader Of “Dark Clouds” Defense

Simmons’ tweet about Bell’s NFL combine performance showed his admiration for one of his star defensive pupils. 

 

The Rattlers’ defense, aka “Dark Clouds,” led by Bell and SWAC Defensive Player of the Year Isaiah Land, finished second in fewest points allowed per game (17.0) behind conference champion Jackson State.

In their only SWAC loss, a 7-6 nailbiter to Deion Sanders’ boys in the “Orange Blossom Classic,” Bell wreaked havoc with tackles all over the field. That set the stage for Bell’s big 2021 season, one that he hopes leads to hearing his name called in the NFL draft.