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OU's Blake Bell shows significant progress, might back up Landry Jones

BY MIKE BALDWIN, Staff Writer, Modified: August 25, 2011 at 5:43 pm •  Published: August 25, 2011

You often hear athletes say: “The game slowed down.” That's exactly what happened for Bell this summer.

“That first year, when I ran the offense, I saw a bunch of jumble,” Bell said. “At this level, the game is a lot faster. In the spring game I was starting to get there. It really was the first time I had played since high school. Now I'm a lot more comfortable.”

Bell isn't a slam dunk to leapfrog Allen on the depth chart. But Bell knew the competition would be stiff when he signed with OU.

Still, Bell knew he most likely would sign with the Sooners. His uncle was an OU fan who turned his nephew into an OU fan. Bell grew up watching the Jason White era, followed by the Sam Bradford era.

Wanting to follow two Heisman winners factored into his decision. But it was a Heisman runner-up, Josh Heupel, OU's quarterback coach, when he signed that outweighed all other variables.

"He was a big, big factor," Bell said. "That's who I'm going to be around the whole time I'm here. I tell everyone to look at all the things he's done with the quarterbacks here. And what he did. He won a national championship. He knows what it's about and how to get there."

Now the question is who will follow White, Bradford and Jones. Will it be Allen or Bell?

OU's 2009 season opener is a constant reminder the decision is important not only for the future, it could impact the season.

Bradford suffering a shoulder injury two years ago against BYU did more than torpedo a season filled with high expectations. It was a reminder the backup quarterback is one snap away from leading one of the top programs in the country.

Regardless when Bell takes his first snap, Jones predicts his protégé will be ready.

“Blake has come a long way from where he was as a freshman,” Jones said. “He's big. He's tall. He's athletic. He's a good prospect who will have a big future here.”

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