Can Blake Bell throw?

NORMAN, Okla. -- Three years ago, the Detroit Tigers were so intrigued with Blake Bell's arm, they picked him in the 43rd round of the MLB draft.

Never mind Bell wasn't a baseball player. Hadn't thrown a fastball in years.

Lately, Bell has intrigued with his wheels. But this spring as he will battle to become Oklahoma's next starting quarterback, Bell is ready to remind everyone about his arm -- which was the reason the Tigers drafted him. And the reason the Sooners recruited him.

"That's definitely why they recruited him," said Dusty Trail, Bell's former offensive coordinator at Bishop Carroll High School in Wichita, Kan. "The running was just a bonus in their eyes."

The running has been quite the bonus.

Through one-and-a-half seasons out of the "Belldozer" package, Bell has already rushed for 24 touchdowns -- a pace that would have him breaking OU's illustrious quarterback career rushing touchdown record.

Bell, however, didn't become one of the most highly touted high school quarterbacks in the country by trucking through linebackers. He only ran for a little more than 300 yards as a junior, and 800-plus yards as a senior, the majority coming during Carroll's playoff run.

What caught the eyes of OU, Notre Dame and Georgia, among many others, was Bell's quick delivery, the velocity on his throws and the accuracy with which he delivered them. As a senior, in fact, Bell completed 67 percent of his passes for more than 2,750 yards and 32 touchdowns with just five interceptions.

"I don't know that anyone necessarily even recruited him as a dual-threat guy," Trail said. "He had dual-threat capabilities. But really, they were more impressed with his passing abilities, his accuracy with the ball, his ability to get it there quick, those type of things. In visiting with the coaches that came through here, that was the recurring theme: 'Boy, he gets the ball out quick, and it gets to where it needs to in a hurry.' "

It might be hard to remember now, but Bell's arm was so highly billed out of high school that Bob Stoops had to reaffirm Landry Jones as his starting quarterback to fans and the media.

Three years later, with Jones graduated, Bell will finally have the opportunity to showcase that arm. Behind the scenes, however, he has already been doing it.

"Blake throws a great long ball," Stoops said. "I know we haven't seen it as much, but he has an excellent arm to go along with all the other stuff."

Stoops, however, has already indicated that the "other stuff" won't be enough to win Bell the starting job -- which, according to Trail, is just fine by Bell.

"I think he feels like he has something to prove," Trail said. "He knows what people say about him, that he's the Belldozer and he's just a big guy that can only run the football. He definitely wants to show people that he can throw the ball, that he can throw the ball in the right spot, that he can see what the defense is doing."

"That he's a complete quarterback."