LINCOLN — Antonio Bell is just glad to have some stability in his football life right now.
After signing with Nebraska in 2008, Bell had to clear some academic hurdles before enrolling 11 months later.
After going through a season at receiver, he was asked by coaches last summer to move to cornerback.
And after learning the position last season under Marvin Sanders, Bell met a new position coach for spring practice when Sanders departed and Corey Raymond joined the staff.
"I feel a lot better than last year," Bell said. "I'm a lot more comfortable."
So the next step for Bell would be to increase his contributions as a junior. He looks headed for more significant playing time — he's challenging Ciante Evans at the left cornerback spot and is in a rotation for the two cornerback positions with Evans, Alfonzo Dennard, Andrew Green and Josh Mitchell.
"I'm going to keep taking it a day at a time, keep doing what I'm supposed to do, improving from my mistakes," he said. "And whatever happens during the season happens."
Bell played in eight games last season, but mostly on the Huskers' punt unit. His chances to play defensively were limited, among other things, by his shortage of time at the position.
But the 6-foot-2, 200-pounder from Daytona Beach, Fla., trusted what coach Bo Pelini saw and liked about him. Good height and long arms, good hips and athleticism.
"And coming from coaches like those guys — just gurus on the defensive side of the ball — they can turn you into whatever they believe they can turn you into," Bell said.
"If they said it was better that I play defense, I wasn't going to ask any questions. I was going to go do it. It was kind of hard to adjust, but it wasn't anything I couldn't handle, and Coach knew I could handle it and that's why he threw me in like that."
Bell still leans on Dennard and Evans for help. He has been writing down more notes. Eating up whatever Raymond has to offer — and making the most of a fresh start with a new coach.
"I couldn't have been in a better situation than having a coach like Coach Raymond ... with the experience he had, playing in the NFL the years he did," Bell said. "Everything is technique to him. Everything you need to make yourself a better player is there. It's an honor to play for a guy like that."
Raymond said one of Bell's ongoing adjustments is acquiring "that defensive mentality." Bell's exposure to defense in high school was limited to a few games at safety and corner.
But he is starting to produce what Raymond wants to see.
"He's becoming a smarter player," Raymond said. "He studies. He takes to coaching. He's been working hard."
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