Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

April 4, 2014

Bell toils as Rams' new defensive coordinator

BLUEFIELD, Va. — Lamar Bell had a dream. He certainly didn’t have to wait long to attain it.

The 24-year-old Bell was hired in December to replace Mike Scott as the defensive coordinator for the Bluefield College football team.

“It has certainly been a dream once I got into the coaching profession to coordinate a defense,” Bell said. “I didn’t think it would happen at 24, but I  certainly am excited about the opportunity.”

Bell, who had coached with the Bluefield College coaching staff of Ordell Walker (head coach), Aaron Mingo (offensive coordinator) and Jeremy Burrows (offensive line) at Greenville College in Illinois, was excited to be reunited with that trio when the position became available.

He spent 2012 as a graduate assistant for Walker at Green-ville, and served in numerous roles last season under Robbie Schomaker, who moved from offensive coordinator to head coach when Walker left for Bluefield.

“I had a year to spend with Walker, Mingo and Schomaker and those guys,” Bell said. “Once Walker left we knew this was that next step for them. I spent enough time with Coach Schomaker to feel pretty confident with him, but I knew in my heart I always wanted to be back working with Walker at some point.”

Bell was raised in the big city atmosphere of New York City, Brooklyn and spent two years playing football at Bayshore High School in Long Island.

“I have always had the little kid dream of playing, but later in high school I realized that wasn’t reality,” said Bell, a running back, receiver and defensive back on the field. “I went to college not really sure how I wanted to be involved in football, but I knew I wanted to be involved.  

“By the end of my freshman year of college I knew that was kind of the road I wanted to head down.”

When it came time to pick a college, Bell wanted to leave New York and head south, and wound up majoring in sports management at High Point University in North Carolina.

Talk about culture shock.

“It was different, probably the biggest thing was meeting people,” said Bell, whose grandmother had been raised in South Carolina.

“In New York there is a stigma that many people are rude if you walk up to them and introduce yourself and that is the case so I wasn’t used to doing that.

“In High Point people will walk up to you and introduce themselves as they walk right by and in that aspect it certainly was a shock, but one I was glad to get to experience. It certainly has changed the way I interact with people.”

Upon graduation, Bell went through an interview process with Methodist College in Fayetteville, N.C., and was eventually hired as a graduate-assistant by Walker at Greenville.

When Walker, Mingo and Burrow all left for Bluefield last May, Bell stayed behind, and had plenty of responsibilities, including full-time assistant head coach, recruiting coordinator, academic coordinator, JV head coach and defensive backs coach.

“I work hard at it, I would say that was one of my best attributes is that I was just going to get after it,” Bell said. “I knew I wasn’t very good (as a player), but I knew that is something I enjoy and I am always just going to continue to work.

“I feel like that has carried over to other aspects of my life...That is one thing I have always wanted every coach I have worked with to understand is that I am going to work.”

While Bluefield struggled through its second straight 0-11 campaign last fall, Green-ville won their first nine games before finishing at 9-2, losing in the NCCAA Victory Bowl in a close game.

Once Scott decided to leave Bluefield, Bell was contacted about a position at Bluefield.

A week later, Bell was ready to make the move south again.

“It took me about a week, I certainly wanted to evaluate all aspects of it,” Bell said. “Finances is never a big issue for me, it really comes down to an opportunity to impact an area that hasn’t seen our brand of football before.

“It is certainly about developing men and to understand they are basically starting from ground zero here and I was excited about that opportunity knowing that it is going to be tough.”

There was more culture shock for Bell when he arrived in Bluefield.

“It certainly is a different experience,” he said. “I have never lived in the mountains, but I am really, really enjoying it. I never thought growing up in the city that I would love the mountains. It is beautiful and it hasn’t been spring yet really.”

It has been spring for the Bluefield football program, which is currently in the midst of 15 practice sessions in preparation for the 2014 season. Bell, who is actually co-defensive coordinator with Walker, likes what he sees from the Rams.

“It is certainly a different breed of athletes that we are dealing with,” Bell said. “It is exciting to see the guys get out there run around. I am connecting with the guys very well, this time of year I am still getting to know them a little bit better.

“When they are on the field they are flying. It is just getting used to the athleticism on a consistent basis is kind of what I am going through. They are growing, they are progressing and it is early so they are just trying to get used to my coaching style.”

While Walker is a proponent of not watching the scoreboard, it is still reality that every football team wants to win games, and the Rams are still looking for their first win since reinstating the program in 2012.

Not a problem for Bell, who likes a challenge.

“You certainly have to see some progress out there on the field, it is a challenge and we are excited, we always have that mentality to accept the challenge,” Bell said.

“We certainly do understand it has been tough the past couple of years and we feel the program is moving in the right direction where we are going to start to see that progression happen out there on the field.

“I am excited about that opportunity, that challenge of knowing that we haven’t won a game yet.”

Bell does feel, however, that the pieces are starting to fit, with impact players available, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

“I am really excited about those guys and I think we have guys that can play,” Bell said. “Certainly the 0-11 record doesn’t show what we have talent-wise.”

The soft-spoken Bell isn’t big or loud out on the field, but his coaching style certainly demonstrates his feelings for the game.

“I am really just a laid back guy. I don’t speak very loudly so when I raise my voice it really seems as if I am yelling,” Bell said. “I am a very laid back guy, very enthusiastic, animated out there on the field.

“I am an energy guy. I expect to sit down in a chair and be exhausted once practice is over.”

— Contact Brian Woodson

bwoodson@bdtonline.com

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