By LARRY VAUGHT
He never got a chance to play against Mercer County’s Malachi Yulee in high school but Danville’s Darrian Bell has spent a lot of time with him the last few weeks.
The two are both headed to the University of Louisville as preferred walk-on players later this month and have been working out together under the guidance of former Mercer player Isaiah Burress.
“Malachi had worked with him last year. I needed help to get faster, more mobile,” said Bell, The Advocate-Messenger Defensive Player of the Year last season when he had 125 tackles, two interceptions and one forced fumble. “Malachi said to come over and work out with him, and it has really helped.”
Bell, a starter on Danville’s basketball team, weighed close to 230 pounds when basketball season ended. He’s lost about 15 pounds during his workouts with Yulee, who ran for 1,994 yards and 27 touchdowns the last two seasons at Mercer.
“I have also fully dedicated myself to drinking a bunch of water,” Bell said. “Through high school I did not worry about my diet that much. I ate what I wanted since I was playing and working out. College football gets more serious and I know I need to lose weight.”
Bell said the two do a lot of track and conditioning workouts but also do agility work as well as individual drills. Bell also does weightlifting on his own along with pushups and squats.
“It has definitely made me faster. I am more mobile, more fluid,” Bell said. “I just feel way better.”
He said he “connected” with Yulee since they are both going to Louisville and have similar personalities.
“He is a running back, I am a linebacker. He is a little bit faster than me, so that pushes me,” Bell, the leading tackler on Danville’s 2017 state championship team, said.
Bell remains “excited” about the opportunity ahead at Louisville where he hopes to major in sports management.
“I feel really good about where I am,” Bell said. “And I think if we both get up there and work, we have a good chance to play. My goal is to try and get on the travel team, get on special teams. I hear a lot of players have to redshirt because they are not strong enough or big enough. It just depends on where they want me to play.
“I think me showing them my ability and making sure they see how I can move will then let the coaches decide if they want to play me like I am or want me to add weight. I would rather be light, quick and fast and ready to go than bigger and slower when I get there.”