It’s been a busy spring on the L.D. Bell football practice field. Along with a new head coach, Mike Glaze, and two new coordinators, around 60 college coaches popped up showing interest in players.
“Flattering is not the word I would choose. Maybe ‘humbling and very exciting’ to see the opportunities that are out there for our student-athletes,” said Glaze, who came to Bell from Cedar Hill, where he was offensive coordinator of the Longhorns and helped them win back-to-back state titles recently.
Among the top schools that have sent coaches to Bell practices are Texas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Michigan State, Washington and Boise State.
Among the top athletes they are watching are seniors Tacorian Howard, wide receiver; Tyler Dunlap, kicker/punter; and Dominique Lawson, quarterbacks. Juniors on their radar include offensive tackle Brendon Weatherspoon, center Duvante Dawson, tight end Christion Nealy, defensive tackle Vita Ahio and safety DeQualon Hill.
The large visitation turnout by college coaches has been a distraction at times, Glaze said, but he’s glad to see so many coaches coming to town.
“It is a distraction to me as I am still coaching the quarterbacks. But it is a welcome distraction,” he said. “Anything I can do to help our student-athletes is well worth the time invested.
“Several of the college coaches I know from my time at Cedar Hill and have a relationship with those guys. Might also just be the fact that there is a ‘new’ guy here and they want to get acquainted.”
Glaze came to Bell following the Raiders’ 1-9 season in 2014, which came on the heels of four straight bidistrict losses by Bell. His track record speaks for itself, having coached in the postseason for 10 straight years, along with helping Weatherford to the program’s only back-to-back Class 5A playoff appearances in their history.
Among his top priorities for the spring was training his athletes to move at “Raider Speed” (with a heightened sense of urgency, faster pace and high enthusiasm), getting the know the players and put them in position to be successful in the fall, and having fun.
The Raiders will return six offensive starters and four on defense. Glaze said several have caught his attention, including Donovan Gladden (junior offensive tackle), Eric Herron (junior defensive tackle), Fernando Lazo (senior linebacker), Ricky Tatu (junior defensive end) and Terry Pace (junior running back), to name just a few.
Glaze said the top priority is changing the mentality of the program to a “Champions Mentality.”
“How we work, do things and treat each other,” he said.
“Biggest challenge right now seems to be increasing participation in the football program at the high school level. We only have 24 seniors right now in the program at a 6A high school.”
To help him accomplish those goals, Glaze brought with him two new coordinators, Brady Bond heads the defense and Brock Walker leads the offense. Bond came to Bell from Lake Travis, and previously coached with Glaze at Cedar Hill for five years. Walker played football with Glaze at Hardin-Simmons and was recently offensive coordinator at Granbury after stops at McKinney North, Highland Park and Rowlett.
And though spring football is over for the Raiders, Glaze expects his players to continue to work hard through the summer.
“I call it Summer Dedication. It includes the summer strength and conditioning program, we will play 7-on-7, participate in two SQT’s (state qualifying tournaments), and we will also compete in Lineman Challenges,” he said.
“We also have several kids that train with the QB Ranch. Haven’t really set goals for the summer, our goal is to go 1-0 in everything we do.”