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Toreros answer the Bell
Standout receiver/returner heading to San Diego
Joined by grandparents, Tom and Frances Peterson, coaches Eric Reis and Neil MacDannald, and mother Sydne Berry, Manteca High standout receiver Reggie Bell signed his letter of intent to play for University of San Diego Wednesday at the school’s library. - photo by JONAMAR JAICNTO

Reggie Bell’s hard work on the football field paid off, but he is also reaping the benefits of hard work in the classroom.

Manteca High’s standout wide receiver and special teams returner fittingly signed to play for the University of San Diego Wednesday at the school’s library.

The Toreros compete in the Pioneer Football League, the nation’s only NCAA Football Championship Subdivision sport-specific conference for non-scholarship programs.

Bell accepted an academic scholarship offer that will take care of 100 percent of his tuition after his freshman year. He attributed his work ethic to Manteca High’s successful football program, and he translated that to his studies.

“When I first came here I wasn’t a hard worker at all,” he said. “During my freshman year I hardly played because I didn’t work hard. I learned real quickly that if I want to play I have to work hard — it’s what the coaching staff strives for. You may not be the biggest or the best, but if you work hard you’d fit right in at Manteca High.”

Bell’s stock rose after a breakout junior year when two-time Bulletin All-Area and all-Valley Oak League first-team selection produced 34 catches, 762 yards and 10 touchdowns.

He didn’t reach expectations numbers-wise as a receiver (31 receptions, 444 yards, three TDs) this past fall but found other ways to contribute for the Buffaloes, namely on special teams where he returned five punts for scores. Manteca went 8-2 in 2008 and 7-4 in 2009.

Bell said he received walk-on offers from several other Division I programs on the West Coast such as Sacramento State, UC Davis, Stanford, Washington and San Jose State.

“I was looking for a scholarship offer,” he said. “If nothing came about I’d be going to a junior college to try and earn a scholarship from there.

“The University of San Diego ended up being perfect. The school is real big on academics, it’s hard for them to find players who can get into the school academically and have athletic ability.”

At 6 feet, 170 pounds, Bell is a sure-handed receiver, a solid route runner and a threat in the open field. In his talks with the University of San Diego coaching staff, however, Manteca head coach Eric Reis said that Bell’s well-rounded traits are what captured its attention.

“His big-play ability was what stood out to them, but it was the combination of that and his academics was what they were really interested in,” said Reis. “He had a very high SAT score which opened up doors that most kids don’t have.

“Character is also a big thing with him. You can ask any of his teachers, and they’ll tell you he’s a good citizen.”

Bell currently holds a 3.6 core GPA. He is undecided on a major but is exploring sports broadcasting/journalism, business management/communications and kinesiology.

Bell visited USD in December to meet with head coach Ron Caragher and the staff and was immediately drawn in.

“I loved everything about it,” Bell said. “The coaching staff was really nice, the campus sits on top of a hill and is just beautiful. Plus, it’s San Diego — what is there to not to like about it?”