KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Bell last name rings far and wide throughout the Kansas City metro. And Ronnie Bell only continues to enhance that legacy.
The Park Hill alum will have the opportunity to hear his name called at the 2023 NFL Draft in his hometown, a dream coming to fruition for Bell.
“It is surreal. Feels like I am living my dream, and for it all to be happening right here in Kansas City, that’s what really makes it feel unreal. It’s like the perfect writing to a story.”
Bell won the Simone Award during his senior season at Park Hill—awarded to the best football player in the Kansas City metro area—but that wasn’t always the sport that he’d thought he’d be playing.
“That Ronnie Bell was a basketball player, but when I got up to Michigan I knew I could make something happen.”
He certainly did, with the advantage of being at Michigan and playing under former NFL Head Coach Jim Harbaugh.
“When I’m talking about our offense, we just get to talking football, because our offense is very similar to their offense, it’s just a different language, but concept wise, we’re achieving the same goal.”
Despite Bell’s success on the court and initially committing to Missouri State to play basketball, he knew where his heart was.
“Looking back at that kid that was on his way to play college basketball, I’m just proud of him, of myself for believing in myself. Although I was looked at as a basketball player, I knew the whole time in my heart that I wanted to be on that field.”
The Michigan alum has visited with the Kansas City Chiefs and while he would love the opportunity to play at home, he is grateful to be on any that drafts him.
“I have open arms for all 32 teams. To just be given a chance, I am head over heels excited for that. But if I were to stay at home and play for the Chiefs, it would be amazing for my family because this is where I grew up and for me to have a chance to live out my professional dream right here at home, I know my mom would love that!”
Bell has spoken with all 32 teams and has been on Zoom or phone calls with a majority of teams. He says the draft process was stressful at first but it has also been fun, especially down the final stretch.
“At first, I moved down to Florida and trained strictly for the combine, that was the part of it that was kind of stressful. After that, I moved back up to Ann Arbor and trained with our strength staff and got ready for the pro day then just trying to get into football shape after that. It has been great.”
“I still have a lot more to learn, you know what I mean? Being in these rooms with these coaches, start talking ball, trying to pick their brain, it’s really amazing.”
Bell had his best year after in 2022 suffering an ACL injury in 2021. He finished his senior season at Michigan with 62 receptions for 889 yards and four touchdowns, including a career-high 135 yards and a score in the College Football Playoff Semifinal against TCU.
“Towards the end of the season is when I really started to really feel really, really good about myself, and I’ve done nothing but grow since.”
Now Bell is ready to put on for his hometown and show what he’s capable of. Representing KC has been something he’s continued to hold close.
“From the moment I left Kansas City to go up to Michigan, I always carried that with me and felt that I was representing Kansas City just as much as myself,” Bell said.
“So through this draft and my NFL career, I feel will continue to do that. I want to make this city proud! “
Bell’s father, Aaron Bell was a standout receiver at Raytown South High School before going to Pittsburg State. He is now the wide receivers coach at Missouri Western.
The two share a close bond and Ronnie just wants to continue to make his father proud.
“I just hope I have made him very proud. I have looked up to him my entire life. He’s always been my biggest supporter and my strongest friend through any situation in my life. I just hope through this whole process, I am making him proud.”
Bell plans to spend time with his dad during the draft in anticipation of his name being called.
“During the draft, me and my dad are just going to try and go golfing, go kill some time, you know what mean.”