LARAMIE -- With Kolbey Taylor now roaming Vanderbilt's secondary and Jakorey Hawkins making his final preparations for the upcoming NFL Draft, a youth movement is underway in Wyoming's cornerback room.

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If the season were to start today, Jay Sawvel said on Tuesday, Tyrecus Davis would be atop the depth chart. Opposite him -- Ian Bell.


"Steady," the Cowboys' rookie head coach said when asked what fans should know about the 18-year-old. "He's a consistent person with a consistent work ethic. He did a pretty good job as a freshman in the spots that he played.

"He's going to be a solid player."



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Bell did appear in 11 games last fall, forced into action when Davis was sidelined with a partially torn MCL in his knee in a Week 4 matchup with Appalachian State. The 6-foot-1, 186-pound true freshman tallied six tackles on the season, including a career-high three in a loss at UNLV.

The numbers aren't eye-popping, but Bell quietly held down the fort as Taylor entered the doghouse and Hawkins dealt with bouts of cramping.

What did his coaches learn?

"He is not going to be afraid of the moment," Wyoming's cornerbacks coach Benny Boyd said. "I mean, shoot, Ian Bell was out there that last snap against Appalachian State. He played a number of snaps in the fourth quarter in the bowl game. So, he's been in some big time situations. You know, he played in the fourth quarter against CSU and against Fresno State. So, some of these big-time environments, that young man has stepped on the field.

"I don't think he's going to shy away from the moment."

Bell is quiet and unassuming, barely raising his voice above the background chatter going on Tuesday afternoon inside the High Altitude Performance Center. A mouth full of braces only magnifies how inexperienced he really is.

There's no sugarcoating it -- confidence wasn't always easy to come by in 2023, Bell admitted.

He recalled his "welcome to college football moment." That came when Hawaii quarterback Brayden Schager hit Chuuky Hines from 19 yards out with less than a minute remaining in the third quarter. It was a perfectly-placed back-shoulder throw toward the sideline. Bell got boxed out as Hines snagged the ball and bullied his way into the end zone.

"I was there, but the timing, it's just so quick," Bell said. "It's the small little details. One little mistake and you get scored on."

Nerves followed him onto the field to start drives, he added. It took a couple of snaps, he said, to settle in. More playing time equaled more comfortability.

"When you're a young corner, there's going to be a mistake here and there," added Sawvel, who was the team's defensive coordinator over the previous four seasons. "That's just the nature of the position. You could be young Jaden Williams and jump out of the A-gap and people gain five yards. You could be Ian Bell, get beat on a route, it's 35 yards and everybody knows it.

"... I like his day-to-day demeanor and his consistency."

The La Verne, Calif., product capped his senior season at Damien High School with 35 tackles, including a pair for loss. He broke up 10 passes and recovered a fumble, too. His numbers were nearly identical the previous year, aside from causing a pair of loose balls.

The University of Arizona was impressed with Bell. So were Mountain West foes CSU and UNLV.



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He chose Wyoming as part of a recruiting class that also featured fellow corners Naz Hill and Chauncey Carter. Keany Parks came to Laramie as a three-star recruit at running back. He was also moved to the secondary in fall camp.

Bell climbed the depth chart with intangibles.

"He's a tough-minded young man, he's going to work as hard as he can and I think he really enjoys being here," Boyd said. "He really enjoys representing the Wyoming Cowboy Football Club."

Fine-tuning his craft has become Bell's primary focus this offseason. Getting physical at the line of scrimmage is one aspect of his game, admittedly, that needs attention. Jamming the likes of 6-foot-5 Alex Brown has helped. Same can be said for TK King, a Texas Tech transfer who ran the 200-meter dash in just 20.74 seconds in high school.

If the best look Bell gets is between Monday and Friday in Laramie, Boyd added, "Saturday is going to be great for everybody."

That's the hope.

"It means a lot," Bell said, referring to his coach's belief in him as a potential opening-day starter. "It means I have to lock in, grow up fast and take everything serious, but be comfortable, though. I need to get in the playbook, get my techniques right and just play hard and fast."

University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players

During the summer of 2021, counted down the Top 50 football players in University of Wyoming history, presented by Premier Bone & Joint Centers, Worthy of Wyoming.

The rules are simple: What was the player's impact while in Laramie? That means NFL stats, draft status or any other accolade earned outside of UW is irrelevant when it comes to this list.

This isn't a one-man job. This task called for a panel of experts. Joining 7220's Cody Tucker are Robert GagliardiJared NewlandRyan Thorburn, and Kevin McKinney.

We all compiled our own list of 50 and let computer averages do the work. Think BCS -- only we hope this catalog is fairer.

Don't agree with a selection? Feel free to sound off on our Twitter: @7220sports - #Top50UWFB

Gallery Credit:

- University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players

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