April 2, 2010

Michigan running back eager for trip to the South

Da'shawn Bell will make his first trip to the South next weekend.

It won't be a sightseeing tour for the 5-foot-9, 175-pound running back from Detroit (Inkster), Mich. Instead, Bell is hoping that the excursion might result in a long-term relationship.

Bell, who rushed for 1,203 yards and nine touchdowns last season to help lead Inkster to a berth in the state championship game, will take an unofficial visit to Ole Miss to check out the Rebels' practices. He's also hoping he'll get a better feel for a program that has caught his eye over the past couple of years due to Ole Miss' use of former wide receiver/running back Dexter McCluster.

"I just want to see the facilities and see how they compare to some of the Big Ten schools," Bell said. "I just want to play in the SEC. I want to play against teams like Florida, LSU and Tennessee. I like the speed of the SEC. I've talked to people who say it's the best of the best."

Ole Miss' use of the 5-foot-9, 170-pound McCluster, who is now preparing for the NFL draft later this month, put Mississippi on Bell's mind.

"I loved what they did with McCluster," Bell said. "I talked to (Ole Miss running backs coach) Derrick Nix and he said I have similar ability. I'm a smaller back, but I like to run between the tackles. A lot of little backs just run outside. I like to show I have power.

"McCluster has heart. He takes on linebackers. That how I describe myself as well. Also, I like the 'Wild Rebel' offense. I think I'd fit in that well."

Bell, who is drawing interest from Big Ten powers Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue as well as perennial MAC contender Central Michigan, said an offer from the Rebels would prompt some strong soul-searching.

"They'd be on top," Bell said. "I'd have to sit down and talk to my mom, my dad and my coach, but I'd be a heavy lean. I really like Ole Miss a lot."

Bell said he's told his family for years that he'd like to explore the possibility of leaving the Midwest and Big Ten country for his college career.

"My family says it's a big step," Bell said. "They just want me to go into this trip with a clear head and an open mind."

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