When it came to college football, Quinton Bell was a square peg trying to fit into a round hole until 2018, but once he found his sweet spot on the field, he flourished. Then, when he had a chance to impress NFL Scouts, he flourished some more and is one of the more intriguing FCS prospects entering this week's draft.
The Prairie View A&M DE/OLB/SS prospect (choose your poison, because scouts haven't exactly made up their minds yet either) made heads spin with his Pro Day performance, where his 40, his vertical jump, his broad jump and his bench press would all have been Top 10 marks or better at the NFL Combine — at several positions.[divider]
PROSPECTS BY FCS CONFERENCE: The list[divider]
"I think the scouts that were there (at Pro Day), they knew my ability and my stats and my story, but I don't think they really knew who I was," Bell told HERO Sports this week. "I think they got to see me in my body, of course, and they also got to meet me. I think it may have opened up their eyes, and also they saw that I could carry my weight and still move around. Obviously my agent spoke highly of me, but I think I backed up what everybody had been saying, that this guy is the real deal."
Bell's story is interesting.
A Long Beach, California, native, he went the junior college route first. When he came to Prairie View A&M, he played receiver but only caught 19 passes before the new coaching staff asked him to try out defense in 2018. He collected 7.5 sacks last fall, not bad for a first-year player who once was known more as a track standout than a college football star. When the defensive staff asked him to consider the change, he knew he needed to bulk up his 219-pound frame, which he did — up to 240 pounds by the Panthers' opening game at Rice.
He told HERO Sports that since his Pro Day, he has made four visits to talk to NFL teams and has been in contact with 15 franchises. That's what happens when you run a hand-timed 4.38-second time in the 40-yard dash … as an EDGE rusher.
"I don't pitch the track speed, I pitch that I'm a fast football player," Bell said. "I made a switch from receiver to playing in the trenches. If you aren't able to take coaching and adapt mentally and physically, you can't play at that level. So I think I proved I could adapt to any situation. I knew I needed to get to 240 pounds, but I didn't lose a lick of my speed. I'm probably the most coachable player any team can have. You're not going to find somebody like me."
The whole journey has been positive, and fascinating, for Bell.
"I can't really put it all into words," Bell said. "This whole process has been so humbling. Two years ago, I was just a washed up receiver at Prairie View. Now, people ask all the time how it is to be called a sleeper draft prospect. I tell people I'm happy to be called anything. It's going to be a dream come true."
"Whoever gets me is going to get a player who plays with attitude."[divider]