This spring, he was offered a scholarship to play football at Georgia Southern, and Auburn offered him a chance to walk on. Instead, Bell will be going cross country to play football as a walk-on at Brigham-Young University, now a Football Bowl Subdivision Independent that has previously won 23 conference titles as a member of the Western Athletic and Mountain West Conferences, and played in 31 bowl games.
BYU, located in Provo, Utah, the largest religious school in the nation that was founded under principals of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Bell is still content with his decision to play football more than 1,800 miles from home, and he is already in Provo working out with first-year coach Bronco Mendenhall and his new teammates.
“First thing that struck me was the distance he has to go to play there,” Kell coach Derek Cook said.
Not only did BYU’s football program attract Bell’s attention, the school’s law program played a role in his decision. He also mentioned the rules can work to his benefit by keeping him out of trouble.
“I wanted to stay away from the partying and focus on my schoolwork and my career, wherever that takes me,” the 5-foot-9, 175-pound Bell said. “Yeah I could have went to Georgia Southern or Auburn. I really liked (BYU). I went on a visit and it’s going to be good school wise and the football program is one of the best.”
To help keep him out of trouble, his family has also relocated to Utah, and he may need them to lean on.
While the school boasts of the finer football programs in the nation, Bell will have to follow a strict code of conduct consistent with Church of Latter Day Saint principals.
He can’t partake in drugs, tobacco, or alcohol, nor is he allowed to drink coffee or tea. He’s got a midnight curfew. No premarital sex and foul language are allowed and is required to attend church services every week at his respective religion. Facial hair is also not allowed. Hair length has to be above the ears and sideburns can’t extend below half of his ear.
One of the recent high-profile cases regarding a BYU athlete breaking the code of conduct came in March of 2011 when the then No. 3-ranked men’s basketball team dismissed 6-foot-9 center Brandon Davies for admitting to premarital sex. He was reinstated the following season.
“(The code of conduct) really is not a problem with me,” Bell said. “It’s not a big change. It’s not a big change for me as it is some people. I’ve lived my life that way growing up so it’s no big deal.”
While BYU’s code of conduct isn’t Bell’s primary concern, learning to play slot receiver is.
He was open to making the change when it was discovered that the Cougars already had significant depth of young tailbacks. He said playing receiver will allow him a chance to earn a starting position quicker. Bell discovered quickly he does have good hands and loves making plays in space.
A realistic goal for Bell is to be a starter by next season and eventually become a scholarship player.
He served as Kell’s short-yardage back in 2012, rushing for 563 yards and 14 touchdowns. Bell helped lead the Longhorns to a 10-2 overall record before falling to eventual state champion Gainesville in the second round of the Class AAAAA state playoffs.
“The thing about Khalil, for us, by the time he first showed up (as a transfer) until he played his last game, he’s gotten better and better,” Cook said. “He started out on our scout team and had to work his way to the top and I anticipate he’s be going to BYU and do the same thing.”