CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Christian Bell will not be one of the many transfer players on the Illinois football roster.
Citing what he’s calling “a uncertain situation”, the Wisconsin graduate transfer Christian announced Monday morning his intention to reopen his recruitment after committing to serve his final year of eligibility at Illinois in March. Bell made this pledge and was the first transfer to do in Illinois’ 2020 recruiting class not long after the campus was shut down along with winter and spring sports ended due to the coronavirus world health pandemic.
"Due to a uncertain situation I have decided to decommit from The University of Illinois!" Bell stated on Twitter Monday morning. "I want to thank the entire Illinois family and coaching staff for welcoming me ! With that being said I am opening my recruitment back up ! It’s not over until it’s over ! GODS PLAN"
In the 2019 season with the Badgers, Bell only appeared in seven games recording four tackles, three solo tackles and one sack. Bell, a hybrid defensive end and linebacker prospect, was expected to take an open defensive line pass rusher spot left by the departures of Oluwole Betiku Jr. and Ayo Shogbonyo.
Bell transferred to Wisconsin from Alabama in 2016 after just one redshirt season in Tuscaloosa. Bell finished his career in Wisconsin appearing in 24 career games with eight tackles, six solo tackles, two sacks, one forced fumble, and one pass breakup.
Before arriving at Alabama, Bell was a four-star prospect by ESPN.com and a three-star recruit by 247Sports.com and Rivals.com after winning three straight state championships at Hoover (Ala.) High School. Bell finished his senior season of high school with 40 total tackles, five tackles for loss, four sacks and seven quarterback hurries. Bell was part of nine team state championships at Hoover in football (three), outdoor track (three), indoor track (two) and one in basketball.
Without Bell using a scholarship, Illini Now/Sports Illustrated has the Illini at a preliminary number of 85 scholarship players, which is the NCAA’s limit. However, it should be noted that number is unofficial as the scholarship paperwork is a year-to-year agreement. The Illini will likely now rely on the combination of seniors Isaiah Gay and Owen Carney Jr. along with redshirt freshman Keith Randolph Jr., to overtake that weakside pass-rushing defensive end position. Gay and Carney have combined for three sacks last season and Randolph was a consensus three-star prospect in the 2019 recruiting class out of Belleville (Ill.) West High School, who had scholarship offers from Boise State, Florida State, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota, Purdue, Rutgers, Syracuse, and Virginia.