Trinity Bell is a star basketball player for Albertville High School who hadn’t played football since middle school prior to strapping up the chin strap this fall. Tennessee didn’t care. The football Vols hosted the 6-foot-7, 250-pound athlete earlier this winter for a Southeastern Conference showdown inside Thompson-Boling Arena and decided to jump onboard early with what would be a class of 2021 prospect. “It really did surprise me. Coming from basketball and not even have played a single snap of football, I was a little overwhelmed,” Bell remembered. “When I got that, I thought I might as well stick to football and see where it goes.” If football is the path chosen, Bell will have his options. Aside from Tennessee, five other programs in Illinois, Nebraska, Purdue, Auburn and Indiana have joined the club. Memphis and Florida are also showing interest.
Bell, however, is still getting adjusted to playing football. With his dynamic frame, the Albertville coaching staff can do several things with him. The athlete has seen action at wide receiver and tight end on offense, as well as defensive end on defense. “My coach just told me to come out and try it. To just come to a workout to see what I thought,” Bell said. “I fell in love with it. This also allows me to not put all my eggs in one basket in regard to basketball.” The stretch-four who can knock down a three from the wing or throw down over a five on the block acknowledged basketball is his first love. Bell stopped playing football originally in middle school because the basketball offers began to pile up. Back in the game, the newcomer understands how the two sports can be mutually-beneficial. “I can use football to work on my physicality in basketball and I can use my rebounding to work on high-pointing the football,” Bell said. “It kind of corresponds with each other.
“But there’s a lot I still need to work on since I was out of it so long. Areas of the game like running routes, blocking for my teammates and releasing down field are just a couple.” Speed, however, is a trait easily translated to the gridiron. According to the prospect, he was timed at 4.5 seconds earlier this year before putting on an additional 20 pounds for football season. With the extra weight at 250 pounds, Bell was clocked at 4.6 seconds this summer. “It’s not too hard right now to get first downs and score touchdowns, but if I’m an athlete, I’ve got to play all the reps on both sides of the ball,” Bell said. “I’m going to try and go to all the camps I can this offseason and do everything I can to get better for the senior year.”
Tennessee, being one of the first programs on the scene for Bell, makes sense due to a connection between Albertville High School and the Pruitt family. UT head coach Jeremy Pruitt’s father, Dale, was the head football coach at the school recently and led the squad to the state playoffs in three of his four seasons at the helm. Dale’s youngest son, Luke Pruitt, was also on staff as the team’s defensive coordinator. Bell remembers meeting the Tennessee coach in passing before even becoming a football player. “Last year when I was thinking about playing, he [Jeremy Pruitt] was here at the school and I got to meet him. Then I went up to the University in February and he offered me. Now we talk all the time.”
Another prominent Tennessee name paid a visit to the High School recently. “Inky Johnson came to Albertville a couple of years ago. I listened to his speech and really wanted to meet him, but I never got the opportunity,” Bell reflected. It’s safe to say that if Bell is a Volunteer one day – he’ll get to meet Inky Johnson. Regardless of what path the hybrid athlete decides to go down – whether it be basketball or football – Bell could see himself in Knoxville one day. The prospected tight end was in house for Tennessee’s double-overtime loss to BYU earlier this season. “The people were nice, and everyone acted like they knew me. The family atmosphere was really good and they wrote me notes after I left,” Bell said. “They showed me the stadium back in February, but the BYU game was the first time I got to see what a game-like atmosphere felt like and the Vol walk. It was all good.”
Tennessee has talked to him about playing on both sides of the ball, but the talk lately has been centered around his ability to play tight end and be a difference maker on offense. That's music to his ears as he prefers to catch touchdowns.
"Personally I want to play tight end in college, but if I have to play D-end then I'll play defense," Bell said. "It started off as a defensive thing, but now everyone wants me at tight end."
And at 6-foot-7 and over 250 pounds, Bell brings plenty of tools to the gridiron.
"I bring a lot of physicality and athleticism to the position," Bell said. "Most tight ends aren't known for being the fastest or most athletic, but I think I can do all that. Jump high and all of that."
Bell acknowledged that Tennessee's lack of depth at the tight end spot is a good thing for the Vols. And while both of the home state schools are on him, there is a feeling he gets when he's on Rocky Top.
"It just feels like home here for real," Bell said. "It's just like a family atmosphere. Everyone is so nice and the hospitality is so good here."
Bell is planning on coming back to Knoxville during spring practice to see how the Vols practice. He also plans on a trip to Alabama in March as well. He isn't sure when he'll commit, but being able to possibly play basketball is a perk in his recruitment.
"For sure I do," Bell said. "If I can, I'll try to play both, but if I can't then I'll just focus on the one."