In this installment of The Recruiting Notebook, we meet a mountain of a man whose size and strength will be a welcomed addition to Miami’s offensive line group: Cleveland (MS) Holmes Community College 4-star OT Markel Bell.
With Mario Cristobal as Miami’s head coach, it should come as no surprise that high level talent acquisition, development, and performance along the offensive line is among the foundations of the program. To help address the talent acquisition side of things, Miami turned their attention to Cleveland (MS) Holmes Community College 4-star OT Markel Bell to join the program.
A massive 6’9” 340lb tackle, Bell has the size and build that teams covet at this key position. But, it’s taken time for Bell to get to this point of his physical build, and on-field performance.
A 2022 recruit out of Cleveland (MS) Central HS, Bell was substantially heavier, pushing 400lbs. Along with that, despite his obvious high-major coveted size, Bell didn’t have much, if any, of a recruiting profile. So, looking for an opportunity to develop his body and his game, Bell chose to go to Holmes CC, one of the many JUCOs in Mississippi.
Over the course of his 2 years at Holmes, Bell has reshaped his body — as evidenced by the near 50lb weight loss already described — and developed his game as well. Playing Left Tackle for Holmes, Bell has been a standout on the field, and his play has earned him the honor of being the #1 JUCO OT in this class.
Being a Mississippi native, it’s no surprise that SEC teams jumped into the fray for Bell’s services. However, after receiving many offers, and taking several visits, Bell committed to Miami on November 3rd.
On the 247sports composite, Bell is a 4-star prospect, the #1 JUCO OT nationally, #7 in the State of Mississippi, and #14 JUCO player overall in this class.
Jones committed to Miami over a list of 19 scholarship offers from around the country, including Arkansas, Auburn, Ole Miss, and Mississippi State.
As A Player
Let’s start with the first thing first: Bell is MASSIVE. A legit 6’9” 340+lbs with a positive wingspan, Bell is the prototype at offensive tackle. His build is favorably comparable with former Miami tackles Bryant McKinnie and Seantrel Henderson. I’m not saying Bell will have that kind of performance, but he has the noteworthy size that those players possessed, which few at the position can claim.
It should be no surprise that a player of Bell’s size is known for his strength. On film, Bell is routinely seen manhandling opposing defenders in both run blocking and pass protecting situations. Bell has good hands and controls defenders in run situations, either tossing them to the ground, or maneuvering them where he needs them to go to create running lanes for offensive players. In pass protection, Bell shows good fundamentals, but can continue to develop here as his career progresses.
Bell can be seen getting out on the edge on some runs, which is something that fits with Miami’s offensive scheme. Remember when Francis Mauigoa flattened that defender on an end around against NC State? Now, imagine being able to have a BIGGER guy do the same thing from the other side. That’s what’s possible with Bell along the line for Miami.
As he comes to Miami, Bell will need to work on his positioning (based mainly on his height) and his footwork, particularly in pass protection. He plays a little upright for my liking. And in Pass Pro, he’ll need to be a bit quicker and lighter on his feet to compete against ACC level edge rushers as opposed to the JUCO guys he’s been playing against for the last 2 years.
- Prototypical size
- Run blocking
- Can develop in Pass Pro
- Footwork can be improved
- Plays very upright at times
Note: changed this up from just a freshman-season outlook to a career outlook for each player a couple of years ago and we’re continuing that style this year as well.
Bell is a block of clay, but high quality clay. With starter Jalen Rivers having announced that he’s returning, 2023 5-star recruit Samson Okunlola recovering from knee surgery, and former starter Zion Nelson.....who knows if he’ll ever play again (he’s missed 2 years with an undisclosed injury guys; something ain’t right there), there is room for Bell to insert himself into the conversation at Left Tackle, both in the short term (as backup) and intermediate tem (as potential starter).
Another potential option down the line would be moving Francis Mauigoa from RT to LT (following the path taken by Penei Sewell when Cristobal and Mirabal had him at Oregon), and have Bell, Okunlola, and Matthew McCoy compete for the RT spot.
At best, Bell catches on to the speed of the game at the P5 level quickly and finds a way to insert himself into the rotation — if not the starting lineup — and has a couple of very nice seasons in Coral Gables.
At worst, Bell is a backup or rotation player who helps raise the floor along the OL, and gives some of the other, developmental HS signees at this position another year (or two) to develop into game-ready players for the Canes.
That’s it for this installment of The Recruiting Notebook.