2019 Season Countdown: #27 Ronnie Bell

2019 Season Countdown: #27 Ronnie Bell


August 5, 2019
Ronnie Bell (image via MGoBlue)

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Name: Ronnie Bell
Height:
6’0″
Weight:
184 lbs.
High school:
Kansas City (MO) Park Hill
Position:
Wide receiver
Class:
Sophomore
Jersey number:
#8
Last year:
I ranked Bell #95 and said he would redshirt (LINK). He had 8 catches for 145 yards and 2 touchdowns.
TTB Rating:
71

For those of you longing for the return of Steve Breaston, I think you may have found a reasonable facsimile in Ronnie Bell. Bell is a slightly built, slippery slot receiver who has the ability to break away without ever really looking like a blazing runner. Bell played early and often as a true freshman, and he figured into the team’s plans in many ways. He caught the ball (8 catches for 145 yards and 2 TD), ran the ball (5 carries for -2 yards), returned punts (2 returns for 7 yards), and returned kickoffs (2 returns for 53 yards). Not bad for a wide receiver who was a recruiting afterthought.

But not great, either. Bell got some jet sweeps despite not having great speed to really threaten the defense to the edge, and I think Michigan’s staff just wasn’t sure how to use him. They wanted some Eddie McDoom or Jehu Chesson jet sweep magic, but Bell just doesn’t quite have that explosion. I think Josh Gattis will have a better idea of how to use Bell, and it also helps that Bell will have spent another year in the weight program. With a guy like him who has a natural ability and willingness to shake off tacklers, a little bit of extra strength should benefit him.

It’s a mighty large jump to go from #95 to #27 in one year. Part of that is because of the promise Bell showed, but it also represents Michigan’s slightly shaky wide receiver situation. I had Bell ranked here even before Oliver Martin’s transfer, and a big reason is that Tarik Black just hasn’t shown that he can stay healthy. Even with the arrival of Mike Sainristil and other touted freshman receivers, having a guy who spent the spring in the system (unlike Cornelius Johnson, George Johnson III, and Giles Jackson) should help him plug in various places if necessary. For now I expect Bell to be a backup in the slot, but he can help in so many ways that a top-30 ranking seems right.

Prediction: Backup slot receiver/punt returner/kickoff returner

16 comments

  1. Avatar
    Comments: 1618
    Joined: 1/19/2016
    je93
    Aug 05, 2019 at 9:52 AM

    Reliable. Not great, but reliable. Hope this kid keeps improving

  2. Lanknows
    Comments: 5515
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Aug 05, 2019 at 12:14 PM

    I don’t know about 5 WR in the top 27. Gattis’ fifth WR had 4 catches last year and 10 the year before. We’ll have to see what the offense looks like but I’m assuming TEs will continue to be important.

    Bell would be getting a lot of hype after a successful freshman season butfor his recruiting profile. He’s a promising player and should be a meaningful contributor again. But I wouldn’t put Bell near the top 30 because of the depth at the position – 3 high end juniors ahead of him, a huge incoming freshman class, and capable contributors in Schoenle and McCurry behind him. Michigan has one of the best WR groups in the country IMO.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3366
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Aug 05, 2019 at 6:04 PM

      Alabama’s #4 wide receiver caught 42 passes.

      And one of the guys ahead of Bell breaks his foot every year.

      • Avatar
        Comments: 1277
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        WindyCityBlue
        Aug 05, 2019 at 6:18 PM

        That’s because Alabama had four really good wide receivers and USED them all to the fullest. We have yet to see if Michigan is capable of that, or if they’ll just continue using two WRs and one TE to catch most of their passes. To this point in history, I’d be prepared to bet without even looking that Michigan’s #4 WR has NEVER had 42 catches.

        • Thunder
          Comments: 3366
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          Aug 05, 2019 at 7:03 PM

          Everything that happens for the first time never happened before. We’ll find out this year. I’m not saying he’s going to catch 42 balls.

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 5515
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Aug 05, 2019 at 7:32 PM

            Uncertainty is there. We don’t know what the offense run by Gattis in collaboration with Harbaugh will look like. It’s possible the fringe WRs will take on a bigger role. I don’t think that’s likely but we’ll see.

          • Avatar
            Comments: 1277
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            WindyCityBlue
            Aug 05, 2019 at 10:45 PM

            Let’s put it this way. I’ll be willing to bet without even looking that Michigan’s #4 WR has never even been CLOSE to 42 catches. And Harbaugh is still mired in playing “Michigan football”. Small leaps that lead to something that never happened before are common. Big ones that go far beyond anything that ever happened are rare. Especially when you’re conservative by nature.

            • Thunder
              Comments: 3366
              Joined: 7/13/2015
              Aug 06, 2019 at 7:41 AM

              I don’t know whom you’re betting against.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 5515
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Aug 05, 2019 at 7:27 PM

          To WCB’s point – The #4 WR at PSU in 2017 had 17 catches. #5 had 10.

          Probably more relevant is UM’s actual roster which did not use it’s other WRs very much, even when Black went down. They lose only Martin and Perry – 31 catches combined. They have Black back healthy and add Sainstril and Jackson amongst others.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 5515
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Aug 05, 2019 at 7:23 PM

        Are you predicting that Black will break his foot again? Of course you’re not.

        Obviously an injury can happen, but a lot of people are one injury away from being relevant. The 4th WR falls pretty low on that post-injury ranking. To give one example – Spanellis, who would probably start if any of 3 guys get dinged. Another Eubanks, who would elevate from rotating backup to key starter.

        • Thunder
          Comments: 3366
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          Aug 05, 2019 at 7:49 PM

          Career receiving for Ronnie Bell (1 season): 8 catches, 145 yards, 2 TD
          Career receiving for Tarik Black/Mike Sainristil (2 seasons): 15 catches, 184 yards, 1 TD

      • UM_1973
        Comments: 95
        Joined: 10/14/2015
        UM_1973
        Aug 06, 2019 at 10:49 AM

        Either you overrate Ronnie Bell or you overrate one the guys ahead of him (if that guy gets injured).

        I agree with the guys that 27 is too high for a 4th WR.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 5515
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Aug 06, 2019 at 12:12 PM

          This is generally a reasonable range for a 4th WR IMO, but too high for 5th.

          I have the 4th WR ranked 33rd for a few reasons.
          1 – potential special teams impact
          2 – high overall talent/athleticism of the young WRs (guys 4-6),
          3 – anticipation of change in scheme putting more on WRs,
          4 – need for a specialized ‘slot’ skillset beyond the top 3

          While the 4th WR probably won’t catch 40 passes, he probably will have a critical impact in some big games. The 4th WR will be needed to rotate in and the 4th WR is going to make some highlight plays. Similar to a top backup CB, DE, TE, etc.

          My 4th WR is Sainristil based on his strong spring but Jackson, Bell, and others can fill this role too. Somebody good and useful will emerge from the 4-6 bin, I have zero doubt.

        • Thunder
          Comments: 3366
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          Aug 06, 2019 at 5:42 PM

          That’s fine if you think that. I think Michigan is going to need to rely on its receivers this season, because the running backs don’t instill a lot of confidence. We’re going into the fall saying that Tru Wilson is the starter. He has 2 carries for 20+ yards, and they came in blowouts against inferior teams. Against Northwestern, Wisconsin, Michigan, Penn State, Indiana, Ohio State, and Florida, his long runs were 6, 9, 3, 5, 15, 12, and 3, respectively. And that’s on a total of 26 carries.

  3. Avatar
    Comments: 1277
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    WindyCityBlue
    Aug 05, 2019 at 2:51 PM

    If our top 3 guys stay healthy, and Bell is no better than our 4th or 5th WR, this is high for him. The non-WR stuff he might do is all very replaceable. But if we have to use him as our #3 WR, he’ll become a lot more important, especially if Gattis actually runs an offense that cares about getting real production out of something other than the top 2 guys. Starting level production may be a lot to expect from him, though. He had a very good season for a lightly regarded true freshman, but whether he actually has another level to his game is still a question. If he can bump up to 15-20 catches, and be a guy defenses have to take seriously, that’d be great for 2019.

  4. Lanknows
    Comments: 5515
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Aug 06, 2019 at 6:48 PM

    I’d bet we have more 20 plus yard runs this year than last. Better OL, scarier passing threats, Gattis effect.

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