Originally created 04/21/01

Former Bulldog still working hard as NFL draft nears



ATHENS, Ga. - When Dave Van Halanger looked out his office window in Georgia's football weight room Monday afternoon, he saw a familiar sight: Kendrell Bell working methodically through a sweaty and solitary routine. When Bell was finished, he joined Van Halanger and his former Bulldogs teammates for another hour of workouts.

Unlike any of the other former Georgia players who expect to be picked in today's NFL Draft, Bell has prepared himself exclusively in Athens. He has been a regular visitor to Van Halanger's weight room since the end of the football season, and Van Halanger doesn't expect that to change after Bell is selected by a professional team.

"Here it is a week before he'll be a millionaire, and he's in here working harder than anybody," said Van Halanger, Georgia's first-year strength and conditioning coach. "And I guarantee you he'll be in here Monday. That's just the way he is."

The first three rounds of the draft will be today, and Bell's name is expected to be called in the first half of those proceedings.

Most soon-to-be pros, including Georgia's Richard Seymour and Quincy Carter, chose to work with a personal trainer to prepare for the draft. Seymour and Carter traveled to New Orleans for workouts that can cost more than $1,000 a week. Bell said he saw no need to get away from the routine that made him a second-team, All-SEC linebacker his senior year.

"I came in doing that, and it didn't fail me then. Why would I stop?" he said. "I think the best motivation is working with your teammates."

The individual training hasn't hurt Bell's stock with professional scouts. The 6-foot-1, 234-pound native of Augusta turned in one of the most impressive performances at February's NFL Combine. He ran a 4.60 40-yard dash and registered a vertical leap of 381/2 inches. Both of those marks were the best among all inside linebackers who worked out at the combine. His 24 bench press repetitions of 225 pounds were second among inside linebackers, trailing only North Carolina's Brandon Spoon's total of 33.

Van Halanger said the scouts who visited Georgia in mid-March were impressed with Bell's determination.

"They see his tremendous work ethic," Van Halanger said. "He just works like crazy. He's here (in the weight room) all the time. He has a motor that never turns off."

Bell comes by his work habits honestly; he has been a hard worker since he left Laney High School four years ago. That was the only way to get from Middle Georgia College in Cochran to where he is now, the doorstep of the National Football League.

"In junior college you really have to work a little bit more because you don't have the resources," Bell said. "It paid off for me that I didn't have those things starting off. I learned to work."

The only thing left for Bell is the wait before his name is called. Several analysts predict he'll be drafted early in the second round, although he could slip into the last half of the first round.

"I'll tell you, Bell's a nice player," said Frank Coyle, who has published Draft Insider's Digest for the past 10 years and also contributes to CBSSportsline.com's draft coverage. "I think he's worst-case scenario an early second-round pick."

Bell said he has tried not to think about the contract that will soon make him a wealthy man.

"When I do think about it, it gives me an adrenalin rush that I have the opportunity to make that kind of money and provide for my family," he said. "The biggest thing for me is to take care of my parents (Henry and Barbara). After I take care of my parents, I'll be pretty much satisfied."

Bell will watch the draft from his parents' home in Augusta. Today is Barbara's birthday.

"She's got a surprise coming," Bell said.