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Markquese Bell is on a mission.
So far, he has checked off rookie minicamp and OTAs to prepare for the moment of truth -- training camp followed by the preseason.
Bell will report to Dallas on July 26 for his first NFL training camp.
All signs point to him impressing the coaching staff in his summer performance with the Cowboys.
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Seven rounds passed in the NFL Draft -- Bell didn't get his name called by any of the 32 teams.
For a short moment, he had to decide on what would be the next move to continue his football career.
That was until Bell's agent, Melvin Bratton called him immediately following the draft to relay the message of the Dallas Cowboys' interest.
Following the phone call, Bell agreed to a deal with 'America's Team' to join as an undrafted free agent.
"When my agent called, it was big weight lifted off my shoulders," he said. "It was a lot of anticipation in that whole three day period.
"That's one less thing that I had to worry about in a sense. It was a lot of pressure taken off of me and now I know where I'm going and got to put in the work. That's the easy part."
His name rings bells
Bell, a 6-foot-3, 205-pound safety, stood out at training camp.
His most memorable play was at OTA's when he intercepted a Cooper Rush pass for a 98-yard return.
Bell also had reps fielding punts during rookie minicamp.
"I just went in with that chip on my shoulder that I've always had," he said. "Going out there with the drafted and undrafted guys, we're basically playing college.
"Rookie minicamp is just like an all-star game on a team. When OTA's started, I wanted to get out there with the vets and guys that have been in the league and show what I could do against them."
He's enjoying Dallas.
On top of the impression he has made, Bell is still a sponge for information.
Looking for ways to ameliorate his skills on the gridiron, the 23-year old rookie is always open to knowledge from the Cowboys' coaching staff and returning players.
"I feel great about Dallas -- I love it," Bell said. "Coach (Dan) Quinn and Coach (Joe) Whitt helped me feel right at home before I even got there.
"Even if I wasn't drafted to them, I felt like God blessed me to a great situation to be around a great group of coaches, players, and guys."
Bell leans on veteran Cowboy safeties Malik Hooker and Jayron Kearse for guidance in expanding his toolbox at the position.
"Malik Hooker and J.K. are some guys that I talk to and pick their brain a little bit," he said. "They've been in the league the longest in my position on the team.
"J.K.'s probably the closest safety to me size wise. Getting the little stuff that he does to make him a dominant player are things I want to do to excel my game to the next level."
One thing at a time
Bell isn't looking too far ahead.
He hasn't even thought about the impending NFL preseason or regular season.
Ahead of training camp, Bell returned to Tallahassee to condition at the Galimore-Powell Fieldhouse at Bragg Memorial Stadium.
Once training camp begins, Bell is locked in on staying up to par to make the main roster before even lusting over Sunday afternoons.
"Only thing on my mind is making that 53-man roster," he said. "It's nothing else on my mind right now.
"Preseason -- that's too far away. The season -- too far away. The only thing I can really control right now is making the 53-man roster and doing everything in my power to put me in the best position that I can be in. At the end of the day, as long as I do that, I feel that God is going to bless me to be able to pursue my dreams a little bit further."
A FAMU Figure
Making the main roster for the Cowboys' regular season opener on Sunday Night Football against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have Bell follow in the footsteps of FAMU alum and Black College Football Hall of Famer Nate Newton.
Newton went undrafted out of FAMU in 1983 and had to tryout for the Cowboys, which led to an All-Pro and Super Bowl winning career.
As a gamer, Bell likes the high stakes.
"It's pressure, but it's good pressure," he said. "You got the whole FAMU behind you -- it's Rattlers everywhere.
"You never feel alone and that has always gave me comfort. I always got the support from the FAMU athletic staff, fans, the alumni -- just everybody wishing you the best and hoping you achieve your dreams. I feel like I can accomplish a lot and make HBCU's as a whole proud in being one of those puzzle pieces into something bigger.
It's a lot of guys that got drafted that have the same opportunity as me to bring a spotlight to HBCU's."
Gerald Thomas III covers FAMU athletics for the Tallahassee Democrat. Contact him via email at email@example.com or on Twitter @3peatgee.
This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: FAMU Football: Markquese Bell preps for Dallas Cowboys' training camp