KNOXVILLE — The long recruiting process may be nearing an end for Vonn Bell, but the Ridgeland High School safety now enters the hardest part of his college decision.
Bell took his official visit to Tennessee this weekend, his third such trip in as many weeks after visiting Alabama last weekend and Ohio State the weekend of Jan. 12.
In a text message to the Times Free Press late Sunday night, Bell said he had a “great visit” to Knoxville in which he spent time with new Vols coach Butch Jones and his staff and attended Tennessee's basketball game on Saturday.
“It was a good weekend in Knoxville,” Bell said. “Opened a lot of eyes and [made] more discussion points … Just being around Coach [Butch] Jones and all the coaching staff you feel positive energy. Walking in [Thompson-Boling] arena you feel the fan love and the excitement there looking forward to the next season and see what Coach Jones brings.”
Tennessee fans at the Vols' basketball game chanted Bell's name on a couple of occasions, and the coaching staff and recruits got a loud ovation as they took their seats for the game near the student section during a first-half timeout.
A week ago Jones and Tennessee's entire defensive staff visited Bell and his family at his home. Alabama coach Nick Saban made his one permissible in-home visit the previous week ahead of Bell’s visit to Tuscaloosa. Ohio State coach Urban Meyer used his in-person visit when Ridgeland played in Georgia's Class AAAA state championship game.
A five-star prospect according to both Rivals and 247sports, Bell will announce his decision on Feb. 6, and his signing-day news conference in Ridgeland's will be broadcast live on ESPNU at 10 a.m.
Alpharetta (Ga.) quarterback Josh Dobbs, who verbally committed to Arizona State in June, was one of two other official visitors the Vols hosted on campus this weekend. According to an ESPN report, Lawrenceville (Ga.) linebacker and Ohio State commitment Trey Johnson quietly made an official visit to see Tennessee. Dobbs (No. 107) and Johnson (154) are both four-star prospects ranked among the nation's top overall players, according to 247sports.com.
Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...