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July 11, 2011Warren Central (Miss.) High School's Devon Bell knew for awhile that getting a full scholarship was a rarity at his position. But the rising senior kicker got that opportunity with Mississippi State and quickly became the Bulldogs' ninth commitment for the Class of 2012.
"They actually offered me at camp but coach Dan Mullen told me to keep quiet about it until I was ready to commit," said the 6-foot-3 and 180-pound Bell. "So I called him and told him I was ready to commit. Coach Mullen was very thrilled and told me 'welcome to the Bulldog family'. He told me to have a strong senior season and said he was glad I wanted to be a Bulldog."
Last year as a junior, Bell earned all-area honors and was considered the state's top punting prospect for 2012. He averaged 40.6 yards on 43 punts and also had 20 touchbacks on 31 kickoffs. He plays for Warren Central head coach Josh Morgan, who is a former MSU defensive back.
Bell was also offered a walk-on spot by Ole Miss and said he was one of the top kickers on Florida State's board. But growing up, he always wanted the chance to play for the Bulldogs.
"Ole Miss wanted me to walk on for my first year and I was also one of the Top 3 kickers that Florida State was looking at," said Bell. "But I was waiting on Mississippi State's offer ever since they started recruiting me. They are a perfect fit for me and I think they will win a national championship down the road. And that is the school to be at."
And Bell's versatility was also a positive in his favor of earning that "rare" offer that punters and kickers receive.
"It is not often that kickers get scholarships and I know it is rare," said Bell. "So I feel fortunate. But the Mississippi State coaches told me I can do as many as three jobs and that I was a good one to get. They said they recruited me to do kickoffs my freshman year and then fight for a starting job as the punter later on. They also said I could be the backup kicker, too."
Bell, who is also a starting pitcher for Warren Central's baseball team, said he felt relieved, obviously, to get his decision over with this early. And naturally, it was an easy decision once he got the Mississippi State offer.
"It feels great to get it over with and to know where I am going," said Bell. "My family is very excited about this and very proud that I am going to Mississippi State."