Mike Bell of Citrus Hill-Perris was a little known defensive back who entered Passing Down with no scholarship offers. Now, he leaves Passing Down as the 2014 Best of the West Most Valuable Player and a future San Diego State lock down corner.
The 6-foot-2, 185-pound Bell had wide receivers on an island in man coverage and used his long arms to swat some huge pass breakups during the BOTW title game at Fullerton College. He helped lead Ground Zero to the 13-6 victory over Big Blue (Silicon Valley) in April 2014.
Bell, a Class of 2015 prospect, said Passing Down helped shape him into the player that he is today.
“Passing Down was a great experience,” Bell said. “I got to play against some of the best athletes along the West Coast and to be named MVP was a blessing.”
After Passing Down, Bell’s phone and mail box started to get flooded with calls, messages and letters from some big-time college football programs.
San Jose State started talking to him. Montana of the Football Championship Subdivision gave him his first offer. Fresno State - the two-time Mountain West champions - was the next school to make its scholarship pledge to Bell.
But when San Diego State surfaced, the Aztecs’ offer was too good for him to pass up. Bell ended his recruitment on May 31, 2014, by committing to the Aztecs.
“I love how it’s an up-and-coming program and it’s something I’ll love to be a part of,” Bell said.
Bell, though, said he had his most fun with Ground Zero.
“Playing for Ground Zero was one of the best decisions that I’ve made in my whole life,” Bell said. “They got me better and without them, I don’t know where I would be in my recruiting process.”
Bell is one of 25 players on Ground Zero with at least one scholarship offer. Bell also played on a team with highly-touted 2016 linebacker prospect Lokeni Toailoa (15 scholarship offers) and 2016 athlete Damian Alloway of Summit-Fontana (five PAC-12 offers).
He said he’ll play cornerback for the Aztecs, who overcame an 0-3 start and went 8-5 last year. Bell, though, added that other schools have contacted him and want to see him play during the upcoming 2014 season. California, Washington and Utah are among the latest schools who are looking closely at Bell.
Bell’s senior season begins on Friday, August 29, against Rancho Verde-Moreno Valley.
Lorenzo Reyna is the sports editor for the Reedley Exponent. He has covered Fresno State for the Daily Collegian and freelanced for Scout/Fox Sports. Reyna is a regular contributor to PassingDown.com.