Tennessee's Class Takes Hit with 5-Star Safety Vonn Bell's Pledge to Ohio State

Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterFebruary 6, 2013

Ohio State S signee Vonn Bell / Photo: 247Sports.com
Ohio State S signee Vonn Bell / Photo: 247Sports.com

Any time a first-year head coach can land his team in the top 25 of the recruiting rankings and sign one or two top-tier prospects in his first season, that's good enough in a transition season.

While Butch Jones is going to post a solid class in his first season on Rocky Top, it took a hit on national signing day when 5-Star safety Vonn Bell spurned the Volunteers in favor of the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer, long time nemesis of Vol Nation from his days at Florida, strikes again.

Bell is a native of Rossville, Ga., which is just south of the border of suburban Chattanooga, Tenn. He was predicted by several outlets to sign with the Vols, but chose the Buckeyes over Tennessee and Alabama.

It's a big hit to the Vols, who were counting on Bell to be a big part of the rebuilding process on the defensive side of the ball.

Tennessee finished the 2012 season last in the SEC in total defense giving up 471.3 yards per game, and finished 13th in the conference in pass defense after giving up 285.8 yards per game through the air.

Bell was a big piece of that puzzle as the Vols install their third scheme in three seasons under new defensive coordinator John Jancek. 

Bell's decision, coupled with the fact that Tennessee was unable to flip defensive end Carl Lawson from Auburn, has not made this the most joyous national signing day in the history of Tennessee football.

Jones still has a chance to lead the Vols into the top 25 of the final team rankings depending on what service you use, but Bell was—without a doubt—the expected headliner of his inaugural class on Rocky Top.

It's a tough loss for Jones and his staff, and one that could delay the rebuilding process for the Vols.