The Massachusetts Pirates have signed offensive lineman Wilson Bell for the 2020 season. Bell played this past year with the Baltimore Brigade of the Arena Football League. A former NCAA National Champion, Bell played in both the ACC and SEC and signed a contract with the Buffalo Bills in 2018.
A former member of the Jacksonville Sharks, Bell said it was a 2018 postgame conversation with two-time All National Arena League defensive end JD Griggs that sparked his interest in Massachusetts.
“I heard about the organization when I played against the Pirates,” he said. A few of the players told me they had a good thing going (in Massachusetts). I’m just so grateful to still be playing football. I’m going to be 25 this year. A lot of people don’t get this opportunity so I’m grateful to be playing, that people are interested in keeping me around and that they believe in me. I want to maximize my potential and be able to influence guys around me in a good way, a positive way. I want everybody to have just as much fun as I’m having on the field. I try to bring that energy to whatever team I’m on,” he added.
Pirates President and General Manager Jawad Yatim is hopeful that Bell plays as well for the Pirates as he did in Jacksonville.
"I remember Wilson from our first season when he was playing for Jacksonville and he was impressive every time we played one another. I thought he was one of the best players in the league that year, and to be able to add someone like that to our offensive front is a great move in my opinion. We’re certainly glad to have Wilson on board," Yatim said.
Bell arrived at Florida State in 2013 and played in two games before suffering a knee injury. He took the season as a redshirt year as the Seminoles went on to claim the Atlantic Coast Conference title and the BCS National Championship with a 34-31 win over Auburn. The lessons he learned that season are still with him today.
“It was amazing. When I was a Florida State, I’d never been around so many leaders on one team and that’s how we got there. Everybody wanted to see everybody make it. The leaders on that team made you want to practice. We were always prepared for business. That was my first experience as a freshman in college and that (attitude) is what I have taken with me. That’s what I was looking for and I want to bring that to any team that I am on. It was an amazing first experience,” he said.
After seeing action in two games in 2014, Bell started every game on the offensive line for the Seminoles in 2015. He helped pave the way for running back Dalvin Cook, who rushed for single season records of 1,691 rushing yards and 1,935 all-purpose yards. He also blocked for Cook’s record setting day as he gained 266 yards and three touchdowns in a 34-14 win over the University of South Florida.
In 2016 he started just five games and the following season enrolled at Auburn as a graduate transfer where he was used in a backup role. Still the Eight Mile, AL native did draw attention as he was named to play in both the SPIRAL Tropical Bowl and the College Gridiron Showcase.
Many believe that the South East Conference is the best in college football and Bell, who stands in at 6’5”, 335 lbs. concurs.
“Yes, everybody is big in the SEC. Don’t ever think that you are the biggest guy on the field. You might get away with that in the ACC; you might have a few guys who are undersized who are quick, but in the SEC, everybody is big and that was an eye-opening moment for me. I had no idea that the competition was so much better. Some teams might not win as much like Ole Miss or Mississippi State, but everyone is well trained, and they know what they are doing. I didn’t fear going to the NFL after my experience in the SEC,” Bell said.
The NFL did not come calling right away. In 2017 Bell signed with the Jacksonville Sharks where he started three games. In 2018 he signed and had a look from the Buffalo Bills. There he learned that physical size was not the number one asset.
“It’s less about brawn and more about brains. People last longer in the NFL because they know what they are doing, they know how to be coached and technique is everything. I was the biggest guy there and I thought I was going to over-power some vets, but these guys were good with their hands. They had their technique down that prevails overall. You don’t have to be the biggest guy but know what you’re doing, be coachable, and have good technique. That’s what I took away from that.” Wilson said.
After his stint in Buffalo, Wilson returned to the Sharks. In 2019 he signed with the Baltimore of the AFL and appeared in three games. Bell, who majored in writing, editing and media at FSU has been putting those skills to use, currently working as a teacher in an alternative school, teaching classes in photo shop and Microsoft Office.
The Massachusetts Pirates are members of the National Arena League (NAL). The Pirates play all home games at the DCU Center located at 50 Forster St. Worcester, MA, 01608. Pirates season tickets for the 2020 season are now available starting at $99.00. For more information on the Massachusetts Pirates please call (508) 452-MASS (6277), email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.masspiratesfootball.com. Follow the Pirates on Facebook, at Facebook.com/MAPirates, on Instagram @mass.pirates, as well as on Twitter @mass_pirates.