[Darryl Woods/810 Varsity]
Ronnie Bell's football recruitment lasted all of a week. Michigan first contacted the Kansas City (MO) Park Hill wide receiver last Thursday. At the time, Bell intended to play college basketball at Missouri State, and held no offers for football despite a productive senior year. Michigan changed that, Bell changed his Twitter bio to read "University of Michigan Commit," and suddenly he's ticketed for the gridiron:
"They were shocked that I didn’t have any football offers," Bell said of the U-M staff. "I’m sure they were shocked that I was committed somewhere to play basketball and not football. I’m not really sure how my name got on their desk or how they found me. God works in amazing ways and he found a way to put my name on their desk.
"I never though this would happen. There were nights I would pray and I would just hope that a football school would give me an opportunity but for Michigan to be the school that did it I could’ve never imagined that. You can’t make something like that up."
Kansas State sniffed around before Bell make his commitment, but it doesn't look like anyone else will get a chance to change his mind; Bell plans to sign his LOI tomorrow, the first day of the new early signing period.
He is the 18th commit in the 2018 class and currently the only wide receiver.
|2* WR||NR WR||
3*, 85, #160 WR,
3*, #226 WR,
Bell got a cursory two-star grade from Rivals after they created his profile yesterday; ESPN hasn't ranked him yet after doing the same. 247 is the only site to attempt to give Bell a real evaluation, but as Allen Trieu explained on The Victors Board, his ceiling is capped by the current lack of information beyond his senior film:
Bell is a tough eval because we have never seen him in person. We looked at his film, but hard to gauge competition and what he's built like on just a highlight tape. We have him a conversative mid-ish three-star to start. I think that's fair for a guy without a huge offer list, without testing numbers we can see, without having been evaluated at camps on in-game.
Michigan has done an in-person evaluation of Bell.
Bell is listed at 6'1", 170 by Rivals and 247; ESPN docks him an inch.
[Hit THE JUMP for scouting, video, and more.]
The internets are still bereft of scouting reports, so let's go right to the senior film:
I'm impressed. The main thing that stands out about Bell is his remarkable body control. He certainly has a basketball-worthy vertical and he uses every inch of it to high-point the ball (2:05, 3:00, 5:55); he can also contort his body to make circus catches (3:34, 8:39). He has great balance, which he combines with surprising power, plus agility, and decent long speed to get good YAC (3:10) and some spectacular sideline tightrope action (1:22). He's capable of running sharp routes (1:38) and has a good sense for setting up routes off the line (4:25, 7:13). He tracks the ball well in the air (5:05). He's even got some blocking chops; his senior reel features a few pancakes on the edge (3:56, 4:15, 7:58).
There are some potential drawbacks. We don't have testing numbers, but Bell doesn't look like he quite has that top gear to really blow the lid off a defense. At 6'1", he's also not a prototype jump-ball receiver. He'll have to rely on that leaping and ball-tracking ability for big plays, a la Junior Hemingway, who was quite a bit burlier. Other complaints are more technical; his first step off the line is inconsistent at least in part because he lines up with his feet too far apart. That's as much good news as bad; he'll be more explosive with some coaching up.
According to Steve Lorenz, here's what stood out to Pep Hamilton and Co. when Michigan did their evaluation:
I'm told Michigan was really impressed with Bell's explosiveness, ball skills and especially his body control.
Also his vertical leap, which...
...yeah, that'll do.
We're going to get to see how Drake Harris's career would've played out with functional hamstrings. (Fingers crossed.)
Just Michigan, though Lorenz says that's a product of Bell's focus on hoops:
It was reiterated to me that Bell would likely have "multiple" high-level offers if he had focused on football throughout the entirety of his recruitment rather than basketball.
The tape, plus the lack of football offers from the likes of Kansas, who should be offering any functional-looking football player in the region, back that up.
Kansas City Park Hill plays in the largest classification in Missouri, though the area competition isn't of the quality you'd get in, for example, Detroit. Bell with be the fourth Power Five signee to hail from the program, according to the Rivals database. He's the second to head to Michigan, joining 2012 five-star DT Ondre Pipkins.
After recording stat lines of 17-232-4 and 53-639-6 as a sophomore and junior, Bell's numbers shot up to 89 receptions for 1605 yards (18.0 YPC) and 21 touchdowns (fourth-most in state history) as a senior. He added 163 yards and three scores on 15 rushes and a punt return touchdown. He won the Simone Award as the best high school football player in Kansas City; notable previous winners include Ladell Betts, Darren Sproles, Josh Freeman, Nathan Scheelhaase, and Evan Boehm.
FAKE 40 TIME
None listed; no surprise, as Bell didn't participate in any football camps.
Senior highlights reeeeeeeeeemix:
Some hoops highlights:
Junior highlights and single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Bell should get plenty of time to get used to his new #1 sport. Michigan brings back all off their wide receivers from this season other than Moe Ways, which means getting Tarik Black back from injury and Oliver Martin free of his redshirt. Also, as we were reminded this year, freshman receivers undergo a major transition period. Bell should get a redshirt.
After that, he'll start clawing for snaps behind, for the most part, the epic receiver haul of 2017. Given the competition, it'll probably take a few years before Bell gets significant playing time, giving him a chance to hone his technique before being pressured to produce. I certainly like his chances of outproducing his current ratings; to me, he looks like a four-star prospect. He has the film, the statistical production, and the local accolades, he just had to choose the sport.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan stands at 18 commits in a class that'll reach the low 20s. Top targets going forward include DE Eyabi Anoma, DTs Tyler Friday and Rick Sandidge, and OTs Nicholas Petit-Frere and Jarrett Patterson. Sam Webb posted that Bell's commitment won't stop Michigan from continuing their pursuit of four-star WRs JaMarr Chase and Chris Olave, either.
Here's the class as it currently stands: