Markquese Bell, from undrafted free agent to NFL HBCU Spotlight Player of the Year

Second-year safety Markquese Bell of the Dallas Cowboys earned recognition as the NFL HBCU Spotlight Player of the Year on the day preceding the Super Bowl.

The ex-Florida A&M football standout told The Famuan, Florida A&M’s student newspaper, “I am humbly grateful for this honor and acknowledgement to be selected for the NFL HBCU Spotlight Player of the Year for the 2023 season. To have it magnified and polarized at the Super Bowl is monumental. It’s humbling to be mentioned in the same sentence as Russell Wilson and Prime Time Deion Sanders, who have stood on this platform.”

Bell signed with the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent out of Florida A&M following the 2022 NFL Draft. He made the Cowboys’ 53-man roster in his rookie season, but he started contributing to the defense in his second year, according to Sports Illustrated. He participated in all 17 games, starting 12 of them, and was second on the team in total tackles (94), trailing only linebacker Damone Clark. He also recorded two forced fumbles and four passes defended.

The publication predicted that if Bell keeps improving, he might soon also end up in the exclusive group of popular professional players on his team who are from HBCUs including fellow Florida A&M alum Bob Hayes and Tennessee State’s Ed “Too Tall” Jones.

With this in mind, the 25-year-old athlete shared his intention to better himself, saying, “I know that I must work extremely hard during this off-season to condition my body to prepare for the everyday grind as a professional football player. I am extremely excited about getting with my coaches and teammates this off-season to study my craft and add more tools to my tool belt.”

“I do realize God has placed upon me to lead and be an example for many, and for that matter, I have accepted my calling to be intentional in the most positive way that I know as to the lives I affect from those watching me,” Bell declared. 

According to the Tallahassee Democrat, Bell, an honorable and proud Rattler, feels compelled to give back by coming out in support of his HBCU “FAMULY.” Bell established the Bell Cares Foundation to assist students and his own business Gramma Hands, LLC. He explained that he wanted to preserve his grandmother’s legacy through generosity.

“I have been very successful and blessed being able to support and provide youth camps that strike out gang violence, mental health awareness, and health and wellness clinics for youths through my foundation and business,” said Bell.

Dollita Okine

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