Butler’s Hawatha Bell a Top Target

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A two-way standout for Butler High School’s (Matthews, N.C.) varsity football team, Hawatha Bell ‘s future on the college level lies at the linebacker position. The 6-1, 230-pound Bell possesses excellent athleticism and speed, as he claims to run a 4.5 in the 40-yard dash. Division 1A college coaches have noticed, as nine Division 1A programs have offered the talented junior.

This past season, Bell tallied around 120 tackles including 12 tackles-for-loss and three sacks.

“I play outside linebacker,” said Bell, who plays in a 4-3 defensive set at Butler. “What I do very well is blitz from the outside and catch people down from behind. Some people question my height, but my speed makes up for my height. My tackling makes up for it, too. I also play running back. When I run the ball, I go head on. I go straight at you.”

Butler, which featured top senior talents such as DB Spencer Adams (Clemson) and WR Jarrett Boykin (Virginia Tech) last season, compiled a 10-3 record in 2007. Bell, a quiet leader who “let’s my game do all the talking,” is one of the top returnees for next season.

“Hopefully, my senior year, we can come back,” Bell said. “People might doubt us because of the players we lose, but I think we will come back strong.”

By the time the 2008 season arrives, Bell hopes to have made his college decision. Of the nine offers, South Carolina and Virginia Tech are two programs at the top of his list. Bell, who speaks often with South Carolina commit Chris Payne, discussed a recent experience in Columbia. He has yet to visit Blacksburg.

“I like the way the coaches carry themselves and the way they kept talking about academics,” Bell said. “I just connected with the coaches. When I went down to South Carolina, I felt at home.

“Right now, I want to give Virginia Tech a visit first. Then I’ll maybe go to UNC for a visit. Hopefully I can make a decision sometime after that.”

The visit vaulted South Carolina to the top of Bell’s list, but more visits are likely to come before a decision is made.

“As of right now, since I’ve only been to South Carolina, South Carolina is highest on my list,” Bell said. “Hopefully, Virginia Tech can make it a competition. I really want to get to Virginia Tech to see the school