The Wolf Pack football team added only one player in the late signing period Wednesday, but that player might end up the biggest star of the class.
Jamaal Bell, a 5-foot-10, 165-pound athlete, signed with Nevada on Wednesday. A three-star recruit, Bell is the top-rated prospect in Nevada's 2019 class, per 247Sports.com. He drew a 0.8756 rating from the site, making him the fifth-best player Nevada has ever signed, according to 247Sports, which also ranked him as the No. 468 recruit in 2019 class, including the 56th-best wide receiver.
Bell, a Southern California native, blew up during his sophomore season. He rushed for 1,404 yards and 14 touchdowns and added 811 receiving yards and nine more scores as a sophomore at Paraclete High in 2016. He then posted the fastest 40-yard dash the following summer in The Opening, a popular recruiting camp in SoCal. His time of 4.43 seconds was matched only by Isaac Taylor-Stuart, a four-star cornerback who recently signed with USC over dozens of offers.
Bell was offered scholarships by Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Oregon State, Utah, Washington State, Fresno State, Colorado State, San Jose State and UTEP, but was largely unable to build off that sophomore season. He transferred to Antelope Valley High in Lancaster, Calif., which cost him five games during his junior season before a hamstring injury hampered him in the summer going into his senior season. He also had his cell phone stolen, per 247Sports, which cost him contacts with a number of college coaches.
Those issues helped push Bell below the radar and he eventually picked Nevada, where he took his first official visit, over offers from Mountain West schools Colorado State and Fresno State as the Pac-12 backed off. Bell is capable of playing running back and slot receiver and could be a potent return man. He said he could be used in a variety of ways.
“I can make a huge impact because I can do both,” Bell told 247Sports in January of playing running back and receiver. “One-on-one against linebackers, that’s easy. When I’m at receiver, I use my speed and quickness to get out of my release. My talents show from there. Every game I look at Tyreek Hill from the Chiefs. I inspire my game off of his game: quickness, speed and strength, especially the quickness. Every time I watch him I try to do what he does in a game.”
After December's early signing period, Bell was the No. 5-rated uncommitted recruit in California. Nevada was able to land the explosive play-maker and envisions using him at receiver.
“Jaamal is really a dynamic play-maker as returner and as a wide receiver," Wolf Pack head coach Jay Norvell said. "He had a lot of recruiting interest from a lot of the Pac-12 schools and almost all of the Mountain West. He has tremendous speed and he is definitely a guy who has a chance to play right away for us."
In eight games as a senior, Bell had 10 carries for 56 yards and caught 24 passes for 444 yards and six touchdowns. In nine games as a junior, he had 24 carries for 246 yards and three touchdowns and added 46 catches for 828 yards and 11 scores. His declining productivity over his last two seasons of high school could have scared off some programs, but Nevada inked the high-ceiling athlete who could play as a true freshman in 2019, potentially as a replacement for slot receiver McLane Mannix, who transferred to Texas Tech after two productive seasons at Nevada.
Maurice Wilmer, a three-star athlete who was once committed to Colorado, also tweeted Wednesday he had committed to Nevada for football and baseball, although Nevada did not announce his signing and said Bell would be the team's only announced addition in the late period. That could indicate Wilmer is either a walk-on or blueshirt, meaning he could join the team in the fall but would count as part of the 2020 recruiting class. Wilmer also reported offers from Air Force, Army, San Jose State, UNLV and a number of FCS teams during the recruitment process.
Tyler Orsini, an interior offensive lineman from Ventura College, also announced a commitment to Nevada earlier this week.