Watch out for this small-school star

MOBILE Ala. — The Senior Bowl, combine and pro day workouts are perhaps most important for unheralded players from non-BCS schools. It is their chance to establish themselves as legitimate pro prospects, and make up ground on the more famous players they are competing against for draft position.

Wayne State RB Joique Bell is looking to make a name for himself during the 2010 Under Armour Senior Bowl. (Ben Liebenberg / NFL.com)

Some at the Senior Bowl, like Florida’s Tim Tebow and USC’s Taylor Mays, have already become household names due to their constant exposure on national television.

Such is not the case for participants like Wayne State’s Joique Bell. The Division II school has not had a single player drafted since 1994, and was only 6-5 last season in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. That matters not to Bell, however. He is determined to make his presence felt and plays with an enthusiasm not demonstrated by all the players here at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

He finishes every run by sprinting all the way to the end zone, and refuses to back down in any blocking drill.

In his NFL.com chat about the Senior Bowl, Pat Kirwan compared him to former Pro Bowl RB Brian Westbrook.

But Bell says he draws inspiration from Shannon Sharpe, a small-school standout from Savannah State who put together one of the best careers ever for a tight end.

“One time, Shannon Sharpe gave a speech, and he said if you can run, if you can catch, if you can block and you can comprehend, you can play football in the NFL,” Bell said. “I already had the confidence, but that just gave me more motivation.”

Bell is catching the eye of some scouts here at the Senior Bowl, and he expects for that to continue.

“Obviously they think I’m good because I’m here. So, I’m just going to take this opportunity and take advantage of it,” pledged Bell.

Jason Feller

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