Rory Bell would like nothing more than to face the goalposts with the game on the line Friday night when his Temple football team visits No. 5 Cincinnati.
“It’s exciting to be playing at Nippert Stadium because I went to football games there in high school and have always wanted to experience the environment as a player,” said Bell, a 2020 graduate of Wilmington High School. I’ll also have many family members and friends from high school in the stands so that adds to the excitement.”
The Owls and Bearcats will kick things off 7 p.m. Friday night at Nippert Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPN.
Bell, a sophomore at the Philadelphia-based institution, has made 6 of 8 field goal attempts this season for Temple. He is 5-5 from 39 yards and in. Bell made a career-best 47-yard field goal against Wagner. He is 17-17 on extra point attempts. Seven of his 28 kickoffs were touchbacks.
He was a four-year letterman on the Hurricane football team, handling kicking and punting duties for head coach Scott Killen.
“The biggest improvement I’ve made to my kicking game at Temple is trusting my technique through consistent repetition,” he said.
Bell has played multiple sports, including soccer when he was younger.
“In terms of mechanics, a soccer player is taught to stay over the ball to prevent hitting the ball too high,” he said. “As a placekicker in football, the largest adjustment is getting under the ball to clear the defensive line and having consistent lateral accuracy.”
Bell’s ability was apparent shortly after joining the Temple football team as a walk-on freshman. After being on the sidelines the first two games last season, Bell took over kickoff duties and was an immediate success. Two of his first six kickoffs were touchbacks after the Owls failed to have a touchback in their first 13 kickoff attempts.
“I was eager to get on the field and make a difference for my team in any way whether that was kickoffs or field goals, but I think starting with kickoffs was a good way to get my feet wet and get comfortable in college game day environment,” he said.
Though just a sophomore, Bell has performed well enough to dream about kicking on Sundays in the NFL. He’s not taking that step just yet.
“The only thing I’m focused on currently is being the best kicker I can be,” he said.
Improvement for Bell takes place not only on the practice field but away from the game as well.
“Taking care of my body is important to me, and the strength and conditioning staff here make sure I do what is necessary to prevent injury and maximize my leg strength on gameday,” said Bell, who was a member of the American Athletic Conference all-academic team last season.
The task of taking down a nationally-ranked Bearcats team is a tall one for Bell and the Owls but one the kicker looks forward to in his return to Southwest Ohio.
”I already know that I’m coming into a hostile environment and I’ve been to UC games before so I know what to expect,” he said. “With that said, blocking out distractions is something I’ve gotten used to so I’m ready to show up on gameday, put the distractions aside, and enjoy the experience.”
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, via email email@example.com or on Twitter @wnjsports