Sophomore safety Vonn Bell admits he was a little frustrated with the lack of playing time he received last year as a freshman.
Up until his performance in the Orange Bowl, where he recorded an interception against Clemson, Bell saw minimal time on the playing field. He made his first career start against the Tigers in Ohio State's 40-35 loss last year, but did not open the season against Navy as one of the starting safeties. Those spots went to Tyvis Powell and Cam Burrows.
Bell and Burrows had been in a battle all of camp and were listed as co-starters Week 1. But when the Buckeyes took the field for their first defensive series against the Midshipmen, it was Burrows who got the first reps.
“It was kinda tough. I just can’t get down on myself, I just gotta keep playing the game," Bell said Wednesday. "You gotta make every play that come to you and show the team, show the coaches why you wanna start and why you need to start so you gotta show out each and every day.”
In an interesting turn of events, Bell is listed as the lone starter on this week's depth chart against Virginia Tech, but head coach Urban Meyer said he and Burrows will split time again. Each played roughly 35 snaps last week against Navy, according to Meyer.
However much playing time Bell gets against the Hokies on Saturday, though, he will be ready for the challenge.
“I’m a little bit of a gamer. When the lights come on, I gotta come with it," he said. "I gotta show the fans, show the coaching staff so they can believe in me making plays for them so I just gotta do more as a young guy in practice and preparation.”
So what has been the key to Bell's improvement from his freshman year to this season?
“I feel way more confident. I felt I’ve grown up in the game, even with my teammates and everything," Bell said. "Communication, learning keys, preparation for games, I just feel more on point.”