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October 31, 2012

Bell tolls for long ball

TUSCALOOSA | If the LSU secondary gives Kenny Bell a little extra room to operate when the University of Alabama plays at Tiger Stadium Saturday, understand why: His speed has earned that respect.

The Crimson Tide's junior receiver has developed something of a role as the long-ball threat in a receiving corps that has provided quarterback AJ McCarron with plenty of options.

"It just all comes down to my speed. I'm blessed to be one of the fastest receivers we have," Bell said. "Whenever my number's called for something to be deep or I have to use my speed, then I just use it. You know, AJ finds me and so we're able to make explosive plays."

Bell made the fourth-longest touchdown catch in school history this year, an 85-yard touchdown against Florida Atlantic in which he picked up most of the yardage after the catch. For several other of his big plays, however, he has gotten behind the secondary without the ball.

"Kenny has great speed, and we certainly like to use him in that capacity. He's got a history of being able to do things like that," said UA coach Nick Saban.

Bell has two of Alabama's three longest pass plays on the season, three of the longest six, and four of the longest eight. That's especially impressive considering he's made only 12 receptions all year, an average of 1.5 per game. No receiver on the team makes more of an impact on a per-catch basis than Bell's average of 25.8 yards per reception. In fact, nobody is even close. Among players with at least three catches on the year, Kevin Norwood ranks second at 17.4 per catch.

"Bell has a lot of speed. I can't knock him, the boy is fast. And AJ knows that," Norwood said. "They practice every day and do a lot of deep ball drills, so that's one of Bell's specialties. He loves the deep balls."

Bell has catches of 85, 57, 44 and 39 yards for the year, three of which have gone for touchdowns. On Saturday, his only catch against Mississippi State was a 57-yard bomb worth six points, extending the UA lead to 14-0.

"Kenny did make a great play in the last game. AJ did make a great throw and made a really good play on that particular play," Saban said. "Hopefully we'll be able to continue to do things like that with all of the explosive players that we have. Kenny's been a guy that has made some of those pays for us. We need him to contniue to do that to be successful."

Reach Chase Goodbread at [email protected] or at 205-722-0196.

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