Chris Bell, a 6-foot-1, 189-pound wide receiver from Kankakee (IL) Bishop McNamara, was one of six players who switched his commitment Friday from Western Michigan to Minnesota to follow head coach P.J. Fleck.
Gopher Hole caught up with Bell to learn the latest on his decision to become a Golden Gopher
Gopher Hole: Obviously, it has been a busy, crazy last couple of days for you. What is the feeling now that you are a new Minnesota commit?
Chris Bell: It feels great, man. Ski-U-Mah. It feels great to be a Gopher.
Gopher Hole: What was your initial reaction when you heard that Coach Fleck was leaving Western Michigan?
Chris Bell: When he left, I knew that it was a business. I know it's just college sports. I know that things happen. I was proud of him that he got a bigger job. A better opportunity in the Big Ten. I was happy for him.
Gopher Hole: To be honest, Coach Fleck had a lot of success at Western Michigan, but there had been some rumors about him possibly leaving. Did you think that if he left, that there was a chance that you could go to that school and play at a little higher level?
Chris Bell: If he went to a higher job and things happened, I always thought that I would go with him.
Gopher Hole: They got five other kids who were Western Michigan commits to all committed to Minnesota Friday. Had you been talking to them at all or had you been hearing from them much?
Chris Bell: I had talked to them a lot.
Gopher Hole: Does that make it a little bit easier knowing that these are guys that you got to know already and knowing that you are going to be playing with them next year?
Chris Bell: Yes. It is way easier.
Gopher Hole: What do you know about Minnesota?
Chris Bell: A lot. They are a very good university. Great education system. Great facilities. Everything sounds good.
Gopher Hole: Obviously, you have done a lot of homework the past few days, learning more about the school, right?
Chris Bell: Of course. They have my major and everything, so it is even better.
Gopher Hole: What is your major?
Chris Bell: I'm thinking about majoring in Sports Management.
Gopher Hole: Have you ever been to Minnesota before?
Chris Bell: I have family there. I drove past the stadium a lot. I've been there a couple of times.
Gopher Hole: What has been the reaction of your family and friends been since you committed to Minnesota?
Chris Bell: They were excited. The level of play and the biggest competition that I could face.
Gopher Hole: Your senior season, you suffered an injury in the season opener and didn't come back until the end of the season. How frustrating was that as a competitive kid?
Chris Bell: It was kind of tough at first, but knowing that I have a future here, a scholarship to play four years of football. Those things happen. I'm healthy enough to play basketball now.
Gopher Hole: What was the injury?
Chris Bell: I tore the ligament in my thumb. I came back for the last game. I tried to cast it up before, but they told me I couldn't cast it.
Gopher Hole: You were 4-5 this past season, but Bishop McNamara won the 3A title in your junior season, winning the state championship game, 50-7 over Tolono Unity. Your team was dominant in the postseason. What was that experience like?
Chris Bell: It was great. It was the best experience. I won it with my brother, Jonathan Moore, who is at Central Michigan now. We just won it together and had a great season. We lost that one game (to 5A power St. Laurence 70-40) and after that one game, we just turn it up and beat everybody.
Gopher Hole: Despite the injury, you ended your career as the school's all-time leader in receiving touchdowns. That has to make you feel awfully proud accomplishing that for a school with great tradition?
Chris Bell: Yes. It is a great tradition, so it is a great feeling.
Gopher Hole: You have been compared to Western Michigan wide receiver Corey Davis? Is he someone you have watched as a player?
Chris Bell: Yes, I watched him. I was supposed to be the next one. I was just want to get better and better.
Gopher Hole: What do you see in him that is comparable to you as a wide receiver?
Chris Bell: We all grew up the same. We grew up tough, got it together. Found a great coach. Changed it around in college. Got good grades. Got a great education.
Gopher Hole: How would you describe yourself as a wide receiver?
Chris Bell: I don't really like to describe myself. I would probably say more like a game changer. If you throw, I can go get it anywhere and stretch the game.
Gopher Hole: They also got the quarterback Tanner Morgan to switch to Minnesota. He is going to enroll early and participate in spring practice. Had you built a relationship with him? Obviously, any good wide receiver is smart enough to become friends with the quarterback. Have you gotten to know him pretty well?
Chris Bell: Tanner is my next quarterback. Tanner is my brother. We have a connection. At camp, I only caught passes from him, so it is cool to have him and that connection already. It is very exciting. I can't wait to get there.
Gopher Hole: Do you know when you are planning to visit Minnesota?
Chris Bell: Probably in two or three weeks.
Gopher Hole: What are you expected to learn from Minnesota when you are up here?
Chris Bell: Learn the actual meaning of Ski-U-Mah. Learn the actual meaning of that and the college.
Gopher Hole: Had you heard much talk or rumors about other Western Michigan coaches coming to Minnesota?
Chris Bell: I heard he was taking some, but I don't know, so whatever happens, happens.
Gopher Hole: How is basketball going so far this season?
Chris Bell: It is going great. We are 10-4.
Gopher Hole: How do you think playing basketball helps you as a wide receiver?
Chris Bell: It keeps me in condition. You are going up and down the court non-stop.
Gopher Hole: I know that you commit to Western Michigan back in February. Had you been hearing from any other schools recently?
Chris Bell: Yesterday, NIU, Illinois, Ball State and Illinois State.
Gopher Hole: Had you decided that if Coach Fleck offered you a scholarship that that was where you were going to be?
Chris Bell: Once I got it from Fleck, I was like I've got to take it. Big Ten. Better competition. Better education, so I just stuck it out with Coach Fleck.
Gopher Hole: Minnesota fans are super familiar with you yet, but what kind of player are they going to see on the field?
Chris Bell: A player with fire in their eyes. They told me that I'm a three-star, not a four or five-star. I'm a three-star king that is going to be that All-American by the end of it.