A situation you don’t see every day has cost Florida State a projected member of its 2015 recruiting class.
Three-star Valdosta, Ga., linebacker Brian Bell had been a verbal commitment to FSU, although a serious and tragic off-field incident had clouded that commitment leading up to National Signing Day. Bell was named late month in a $100 million wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family Kendrick Johnson, a fellow student at Lowndes High School who was found dead in 2013.
The Tallahassee Democrat wrote that “[t]he parents of Kendrick Johnson, a 17-year-old who was found dead inside a rolled-up mat in the Lowndes High gym in January of 2013, allege Brian Bell and his brother – along with three other students – were responsible for the death of their son.” The Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department ruled it an accident, the Democrat continued, “saying the teenager died of positional asphyxia after he got stuck trying to retrieve sneakers he had stored inside the mat.”
From the Orlando Sentinel:
The lawsuit filed by Johnson’s family accuses Bell and others of killing Johnson. Bell was never charged with a crime or listed as a suspect in the case. The Bells’ family attorney, Brice Ladson, denies all allegations made in the complaint.
Bell’s high school coach, Randy McPherson released a statement to the Valdosta Daily Times explaining the recent developments that led to his former player not signing with FSU.
“Last Wednesday morning Coach Jimbo Fisher told me that the FSU Athletic Director and the President would not let him give Brian Bell a scholarship. We went to meet with the FSU President the next day. The next morning, Jimbo called me and told me that they still were not going to let him give Brian a scholarship.”
FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher was asked about the situation earlier Wednesday, and deferred comment to an administration that in the past had been forced to deal with the fallout from the Jameis Winston rape allegations.
“Our administration handles that,” Fisher said when asked about Bell. “If you have any questions, please ask them with that. I’m not going to comment, I’m not going to want to comment on that, it’s unfair to their family.”
According to the Sentinel, Bell also had scholarship offers from Clemson, Louisville, Georgia Tech and others, but his lone official visit was to FSU on Jan. 16. Whether any of those schools, given his off-field situation, will be a consideration moving forward is unknown, although it seems unlikely.
(Photo credit: Rivals.com)