ORLANDO — On Sunday, Markquese Bell will finally settle on a B1G school.
At one time, it looked like it could be Michigan. After all, the Wolverines dominate the New Jersey recruiting market. At another time, it looked like the four-star New Jersey native could stay home and go to Rutgers.
According to the 247sports crystal ball, Maryland is the pick for Bell. But it was the visit to Ohio State for “The Game — during which he got the pitch from OSU recruits Trevon Grimes, Tyjon Lindsey and Tate Martell — that postponed his announcement.
So now, Bell finally has his mind made up. During Sunday’s Under Armour All-America Game, he’ll announce his B1G decision.
It’s either Maryland or Ohio State. Bell confirmed on Wednesday that those will be his final two choices.
It’s been a long-time coming for someone ranked as the No. 7 athlete in the country. “Athlete” is the best way to describe Bell. Only an athlete could play corner, safety, receiver, punter and place kicker. In some sense, Bell resembles fellow versatile New Jersey native Jabrill Peppers. Even at Under Armour All-America practices, he played on both sides of the ball.
If he had it his way, the 6-3, 194-pound recruit would play safety at the next level. Still, he’s not trying to limit himself.
“If I’m able to play more than one position, I’m glad to do it,” Bell said. “But if somebody wants me to play one position, I’ll play one position and do it to the best of my ability.”
Ohio State might want to use Bell’s athleticism elsewhere.
The Buckeyes already have commitments from four 2017 defensive backs rated four stars or better. There’s still a chance OSU adds commitments from the likes of five-star cornerbacks Jeffrey Okudah and Darnay Holmes, both of whom will announce their college choices at the U.S. Army All-America Game.
Will that factor into Bell’s decision?
“Nah,” Bell said. “I’ve never been scared of competition.”
Bell’s also not scared of waiting his turn to play. In other words, he isn’t picking a school because he thinks he can play right away.
“Playing time doesn’t matter to me,” Bell said. “If you’re good, you’re gonna play wherever you go. It’s just about me being comfortable and if football doesn’t work, I can still have something to fall back on going to that school and getting that degree.”
Bell believes he can find that at either Maryland or Ohio State.
The Terps have been there from the beginning. They offered him in the beginning of his junior year. The interest didn’t really pick up until D.J. Durkin took over after the 2015 season.
“(Durkin) is a great guy. Ever since he got to the school, he and the new coaching staff, it’s like a family over there,” Bell said. “They all care for each other and make sure everybody is doing good.”
But will that relationship be enough for the Terps to edge the College Football Playoff-bound Buckeyes? There’s another factor in Maryland’s favor.
“I mean, we’re at the Under Armour All-America game. Maryland is an Under Armour school,” Bell said. “All the gear I get here, if I go to (Maryland), I get to keep it.”
Bell’s decision didn’t come down to gear or whether or not he’d have a chance to skip play immediately. His mind was made up before he got to Orlando this week. He maintained that he won’t change his decision ahead of Sunday’s announcement. That much, he said, is clear.
What isn’t clear is how Bell will make his announcement on Sunday. Hats? Special gloves? A logo shaved into the side of his head?
“I guess we’ll have to wait and see,” Bell joked.