What Ronnie Bell has seen from Michigan football while sidelined, his plans for next year
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan senior receiver Ronnie Bell thought he was just starting his final season with the program when it all came to a screeching halt in the season opener. But in the aftermath of tearing his ACL in the 2021 season opener, the team captain hasn’t sulked and has remained active, trying to keep things as close to how they were.
And that means participating as if he was playing — particularly when it comes to being a leader on the team.
“I’m definitely just staying involved,” Bell told select media at a private event at Shinola in downtown Ann Arbor on Sunday night. “Not shying away from any of it. Just keeping in contact with everybody and hanging out with the guys. Just having everything how it always was, just besides playing.”
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Now he’s watched an entire season unfold, and his team is the Big Ten champion and set to take on Georgia in the College Football Playoff semi-final in the Capital One Orange Bowl.
Though Bell was sidelined, as said, he remained particularly active with the team. But, when the offense started steadily improving down the stretch, especially with him not out there as the primary receiver, was he surprised at all?
Of course not. He says one player has improved the most in that timeframe, but notes he’s not at all shocked that the offense would coalesce as it has. It was just a matter of everyone getting practical experience.
“Mikey Sainristil. His play — play-in, play-out is unbelievable, with our without the ball. His play is 10 out of 10,” Bell said. “I knew the room was gonna come alive. The whole offense, too. It was the first game of the year — we were still trying to find our stride, find the identity and exactly how we were gonna operate the show. I knew it was gonna come alive, it was just a matter of time.”
As far as the passing game is concerned, Bell sings the praises of the starting quarterback, as well as the work ethic that his position group, the wide receivers, have when it comes to improving.
“Cade throws a pretty ball. We’re always throwing, guys are always working after practice, before practice,” Bell said. “Guys are always getting in and throwing around. I think that’s just seeing the ball, tracking the ball, putting themselves in different situations.”
Bell fully intends to return to Ann Arbor and finish out his career next year, similar to Wolverines edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson, who found himself in a similar predicament last year. Considering that Hutchinson was a quintessential leader whose energy was contagious — not only helping the maize and blue finish the regular season No. 2, but finishing second in Heisman Trophy voting himself — does Bell hope to replicate his success as a leader this next year?
Being that team captains are voted on by the players during fall camp, Bell isn’t taking for granted that he earned that role before this season. Regardless, he hopes to instill a similar energy and inspire the same confidence as Hutchinson has in 2021.
“Aidan has been so awesome this whole year,” Bell said. “He’s been guiding this team, leading this team. Next year, however roles play out, whatever I’m supposed to do or need to do, I’m 10 toes down for those guys, everybody’s 10 toes down for me. I know that everybody’s gonna be on the same page, ready to ride.”
While he hasn’t been able to play but one half of football in 2021, Bell wasted no time in reacting to what he’s seen from his Big Ten champion Michigan football team as it prepares for the College Football Playoff.
“Amazing! It’s been amazing! It’s been a lot of fun, too.”