NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Opponents might see an awful lot of Blake Bell this season.
The senior has earned the starting tight end job for No. 4 Oklahoma after switching from quarterback. He also could be used as a short-yardage specialist or as an emergency quarterback.
Bell moved to tight end in the spring and quickly gained the respect of the coaching staff and the players. He has continued to improve in fall practice and is ready to play his new position in Saturday's opener against Louisiana Tech.
"He's really a big comfortable target for any quarterback when he's in the middle of the field," coach Bob Stoops said Monday. "He's got great hands. The different lifting and training from quarterback to tight end here through the year has helped him get stronger and bigger."
The coaches have said they believe Bell has NFL potential at tight end. Quarterback Trevor Knight said Bell has blossomed since the switch.
"The way he has transitioned and the way he has handled the whole thing has been so admirable to watch," Knight said. "To see a guy who obviously would want to be kind of the guy at QB, but to take a step back for his team and really, to take a step forward for himself maybe in the future — it's really been unbelievable. He's really doing an excellent job there, getting involved in the trenches, and also catching the ball."
Bell beat out Taylor McNamara for the No. 1 tight end spot. Isaac Ijalana and Aaron Ripkowski also figure to play.
Stoops said the "Belldozer" package that has utilized the 6-foot-6, 260-pound Bell as a red-zone, short-yardage specialist will remain a part of the offense. Bell has 24 career touchdowns rushing.
"Truthfully, if you ever do that, you are taking some hits away from Trevor or some tougher inside spots where you can get bigger piles and you don't want him (Knight) in," Stoops said. "There's a place for it. But how much or not, it would maybe depend on how successful we are with some of the other stuff we are doing."