WICHITA, Kan. — Oklahoma junior quarterback Blake Bell returned home for Wednesday's Sooner Caravan event at the Hyatt Regency.
Bell, who played high school football at Wichita's Bishop Carroll High, is currently battling sophomore Kendal Thompson and redshirt freshman Trevor Knight to be the Sooners' signal caller in 2013.
He joined senior tight end Brannon Green — another Kansas native — and coach Bob Stoops as the football team's representatives Wednesday night.
Bell has rushed for 24 touchdowns over the past two seasons out of the “Belldozer” package, in which he'd enter the game for starter Landry Jones, take a shotgun snap and plow ahead for short-yardage gains and goal-line touchdowns.
“Following Landry, he did a great job commanding the offense, but I think I'm right there,” Bell told reporters before the event began. “I've got to get better this summer and things of that nature. But by the season, hopefully a lot of us are ready to go.”
Bell said he hopes his running skills — combined with the passing ability no one has seen in a collegiate game situation — will make OU's offense better.
“Obviously that's not all I want to do and I'm going to do,” Bell said of running. “We're going to be out there and throw a little bit, but I think the key is being able to do a little bit of both and keeping the defense on their heels.”
RESCHEDULING ALLOWS BELL TO ATTEND
The Sooner Caravan in Wichita was originally scheduled for May 22.
The tornado that went through Moore two days earlier, though, forced the caravan date to be moved.
The rescheduling allowed Bell to attend.
Bell was in Ireland on a study abroad trip that also included offensive lineman Gabe Ikard, fullback Trey Millard, a few OU athletes from other sports as well as some nonathlete students from the school.
The event is the first Sooner Caravan event in the city since 2009.
In addition to the coaches and players in attendance, the Sooner Schooner was in front of the hotel with horses Boomer and Sooner.
The caravan stop is the next-to-last of the year. The series wraps up July 31 in Oklahoma City.
HENSON USES HOMECOMING FOR WORK
Men's basketball assistant Steve Henson didn't travel by plane with the rest of the Sooner entourage.
The McPherson, Kan., native used the trip close to home for a bit of extra work.
Henson is scheduled to spend Thursday with Sooners signee Keshaun Hamilton in nearby Parsons, Kan.
The 6-foot-10 forward first came on Henson's radar as a freshman at Santa Fe College in Gainesville, Fla.
“He really caught my attention there with his ability to post,” Henson said.
Hamilton tore his anterior cruciate ligament during that season in Florida before transferring to Labette Community College.
“There's a lot of potential there,” Henson said of Hamilton. “Before his injury, he was very agile for a kid his size. He's got very good hands and is a good passer.”
Henson saw some familiar faces in the crowd Wednesday, including the father of a track athlete Henson competed against in high school.
Hamilton is one of two Sooners signees not yet on campus. The other is another Kansas junior college player, center Edson Avila.
Both have academic work to finish before arriving on campus, and Henson said both are on track.
They won't, however, arrive in time to join the team on its August trip to Belgium and France.
GREEN READY FOR SENIOR SEASON
Like Bell, Green had a quick homecoming of sorts Wednesday.
Green's family, coming from Altamont, Kan., had a much longer drive than Bell's. Altamont, a small town in southeastern Kansas, is about 2 1/2 hours away.
His parents and grandparents made the trip to see Green at the caravan stop.
“I was looking out the plane and said, ‘It looks like home,'” Green said. “It's great to be back.”
Green said he looked forward to the tight ends playing a bigger part in the Sooners' offense this year.
Sooner tight ends had just three catches in 2012. Green caught the only touchdown pass.
“We want them out there more and we expect them to be,” Stoops said.