SALEM, Va. – Guilford College’s De’Eric Bell (Jackson, Ga./Jackson) and Vic Smith Jr. (Lakeland, Fla./Atlanta Sports Prep. Academy) were named to the 2017 D3football.com All-America Team Friday night. Bell was a first-team honoree as an all-purpose back. Smith made the third-team squad at safety.
The website announced its 2017 All-Americans prior to its webcast of the NCAA Division III football title game. Selections were made by website staff based on those students named to D3football.com’s first- and second-team all-region squads.
This is Bell’s second All-America honor this week and his second honor from D3football.com. He made the American Football Coaches’ Association’s First Team Division III All-America unit as the first-team all-purpose back, and was a third-team return specialist on D3football.com’s all-star team in 2015. Smith is a first-time All-American.
A 5-7, 195-pound redshirt junior, Bell set 12 school records, earned D3football.com First Team All-South honors, and was a First Team All-Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) all-purpose back this fall. He set league and school standards for all-purpose yardage in a game (424, vs. Methodist) and career (6,237), kick-return touchdowns in a season (3) and punt returns in a game (11, vs. Methodist). Bell leads NCAA Division III in kick-return touchdowns (3), combined kick-return yardage (1,043), and all-purpose yards per game (221.10). His 424 all-purpose yards against Methodist University September 9 set the school record and are the most by a Division III football student-athlete this year. His 11 punt returns in the game set the Division III record and helped him earn a spot on the Week 2 D3football.com/Scoutware Team of the Week.
A team captain, Bell returned to action this season after tearing his ACL four games into the 2016 campaign. He played in all 10 of the Quakers’ 2017 games, starting eight, and led the team in rushing for the third time in four years. Bell stands second in the nation through games of December 9 with a league-leading 30.8 yards per kick return average, second in Quakers’ history. He also ranks fourth nationally with 831 total kick return yards, also a school standard.
Smith, a 6-0, 175-pound senior, led Guilford and ranked second in the league with 98 tackles this season, his first as a starter. He stands 53rd among NCAA Division III tackles per game leaders and 57th in solo stops per outing (5.5) through games of December 9. Smith returned his lone interception of the season 43 yards for a touchdown in Guilford’s win over Shenandoah University. He added 11 tackles in the contest and won the ODAC’s Defensive Player of the Week Award. Smith had 10 or more tackles in four of his 10 games (all starts), plus two nine-tackle efforts. He led Guilford’s tacklers four times. Smith concludes his career with 110 tackles (62 solo) in 26 contests and is slated to graduate with a criminal justice degree.
Coach Chris Rusiewicz’s Quakers posted a 5-5 overall record (3-3 ODAC). The Quakers set or tied 19 school records this fall. Guilford won three of its last four games of the season and finished with a .500 record for the fourth time in five years. The Quakers are slated to return as many as 78 letter winners and 11 starters in 2018, including Bell.