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By LARRY VAUGHT
Miami Herald high school football recruiting guru Larry Blustein has no doubts about how good Alvonte Bell, who gave his verbal commitment to Kentucky this week, is.
“He is a beast. He is a big-time football player,” said Blustein of the 6-6, 240-pound Bell. “There is never 100 percent for sure anything, but this kid has the ability and if he stays the course he could easily be an all-SEC performer or more. He’s going to get bigger. He’s already fast, quick and intelligent. He’s the total package now and is a great player who will just be better.”
Blustein has compared him to Jason Pierre-Paul, a defensive lineman with the New York Giants. He says he also reminds him of former USA Today Defensive Player of the Year Dennis Johnson of Harrodsburg, who played at UK and earned all-Southeastern Conference honors at defensive end.
“I remember seeing Dennis Johnson at camp and thinking, ‘What a monster.’ This kid is the same way. He has the height like Johnson but is maybe not quite as heavy yet. However, he’s the same type high profile player that everybody wants,” Blustein said.
Bell ran the 40-yard dash in 4.7 seconds at a Florida combine and had scholarship offers from Louisville, Florida State, Vanderbilt, West Virginia, Mississippi State, Clemson Mississippi, Illinois and Notre Dame. He’s also received interest from numerous other schools, including Alabama and Miami.
Bell’s coach, Carlos Menendez, at Everglades High School in Miramar, Fla., says Bell’s decision came down to a “comfort level” with UK coaches after being recruited by UK head coach Joker Phillips, defensive coordinator Rick Minter and defensive line coach David Turner.
“He also has some extended family there, and that helped. His mom raised him by herself and that family support helped,” Menendez said. “He took an unofficial visit last weekend, liked what he saw and decided to commit. He is a very respectful and humble kid and this has been a very heavy spring for him with coaches. He never did show any type of being tired or fatigued from the process, but he just felt he was comfortable and now was the time to make a decision.
“I think playing in the SEC is something he wanted to do. If he had a checklist on his wall at home of things he wanted in a school, he would have it at Kentucky. I am happy for him and proud of him.”
Blustein said it was a “no-brainer” after watching Bell play last season when he had 40 tackles and 11 quarterback sacks that he would be a big-time prospect.
“He can just play. You can’t keep him out of the backfield,” Blustein said. “He has the body type to eventually play at 260 or 270 pounds. He has huge, long arms. He is still a work in process and is still learning, but there’s no doubt in my mind if he stays healthy he is a can’t-miss prospect. He just does great things over and over and it’s so tough to keep him out of the backfield. He’ll play outside in college because he’s too big to put inside (at tackle). He’s got that speed and long arms that make him a great pass rusher.
“He’s also a great kid and very well spoken. He’s also a top 30 player in our state and that makes him pretty good because we have a lot of great players here.”