November 1, 2007
Tolliver shares spotlight with talented team
RAYVILLE, La. -- Say hello to Chris Tolliver, Rivals.com's No. 64 ranked football player in the country for the class of 2008. Tolliver is also rated as the No. 9 wide receiver in the nation and the top rated player in the state of Louisiana. He is being heavily recruited by some of the top programs in the country such as Alabama, Florida, LSU and Oklahoma. Oh yeah, and he's currently the third leading receiver on his own team.
After a junior season in which Tolliver piled up 1,500 yards receiving and a whopping 26 touchdowns, he has understandably become a heavy focus for defenses as a senior. But that hasn't slowed down his Rayville (La.) team, thanks in large part to junior speedster Kenny Bell.
Following Tolliver's lead
Through nine games this season, Bell is 15th in the state in receiving yardage with 712 yards. He also has piled up 44 catches, nine of which have gone for touchdowns. Bell's success has forced teams to take the focus off of Tolliver but Bell still looks to the senior as the leader of the wide receivers.
Now, as the recruiting process picks up for Bell, Tolliver will have some advice for the junior.
"You just can't think about it too much," Tolliver said. "During the season you don't have time to think about it much, you just have to focus on the team and then think about it on the weekends."
Bell has still managed to find some time to target some schools he hopes to hear from.
"LSU, Miami, Florida and Alabama," Bell said as his list of favorites. "I really like Nick Saban a lot. I like his attitude towards the game. I want to play in the SEC or the Southeast."
But Bell is learning more than just recruiting tips from Tolliver. He has also paid close attention to what the four-star senior has done on the field as well.
"It's fun," Bell said of playing with Tolliver. "When I was growing up he'd always be teaching me stuff. He'd teach me how to make my routes sharp or how to get open. It's been good."
The two have a friendly competitive spirit on the field and the competition between them brings out their best.
"He'll do his thing on the field and then he makes me want to step up," Bell said.
The two speedy playmakers form a dangerous duo on special teams as well. On kickoffs, the two stand side-by-side as the return men and though there are no fights for the ball, there is a touchdown tally going between the two.
"We do a little handshake (before returns)," Bell said. "We just say whoever gets it better score."
Including jamboree play, Tolliver leads the tally three touchdowns to one.
Rayville's wide receiver's coach Deshawn Logan describes both Tolliver and Bell as different types of receivers but perfect complements to each other both on and off the field.
"They're like two brothers," Logan said. "But Chris is the big brother. Kenny's the energetic one. He's always smiling. When Chris gets mad, Kenny tries to make him smile."
As far as style of play, their personalities seem to mimic their receiving style.
"Kenny loves the ball downfield," Logan said of Bell who has been clocked as fast as 10.55 in the 100 meters and 21.8 in the 200 meters. "Any 'go' route, nobody can catch him.
"Chris loves the slants," he said. "He can work in small spaces. Right now Chris is more physical. His legs are stronger. But running-wise, one of them will beat the other and one day and then the next day the other one will win."
Another junior WR emerges
With the playoffs approaching, it's clear that teams can no longer focus on one receiver in the Rayville offense. In fact, teams can't even focus on two wide receivers anymore.
While Bell leads the area in receiving, junior teammate Abrecus Martinez is fifth in the area with 448 yards and five touchdowns on 28 catches. At 6-foot-3 205 pounds, Martinez is the big-bodied target for Rayville quarterback Justin Higgins.
Martinez should be another prospect that gets heavy looks from schools as a senior. Logan explained that one SEC coach was in the Rayville office recently to see about Bell and Tolliver only to come away asking about Martinez.
Junior wide receiver Wenzell Ross and senior Josh Johnson round out the five man wide receiver rotation which never seems to run out of hands.
"Josh (Johnson) caught more balls than Chris or Kenny through the first three games or so," Logan said. "One game it might be Chris' game then the next game Chris may not get any touches. It's a good problem to have."
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