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Alumni corner: Buccaneers draft Fairview grad Bell in fifth round

Fairview product and former Nebraska star Kenny Bell was selected in the fifth round of the NFL draft by Tampa Bay. (Photo courtesy Nebraska athletics)
Fairview product and former Nebraska star Kenny Bell was selected in the fifth round of the NFL draft by Tampa Bay. (Photo courtesy Nebraska athletics)

Kenny Bell will get a chance to make a name for himself in the National Football League alongside one of this year’s most talked about players, as well as among a pack of the game’s elite wide receivers.

The former Fairview High School football star was drafted on Saturday afternoon in the fifth round by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, pick No. 162 overall after finishing his collegiate career as the all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards at the University of Nebraska.

A Huskers fan favorite who has a strong backing in Boulder, Bell took to Twitter soon after his name was called on Saturday, stating in a Tweet: “Thank you to everyone for the support!!! I truly love and genuinely appreciate you all! Now let’s get to work!!!”

Bell was invited to the NFL combine in Indianapolis in February, and was expected to be drafted after a senior season that included 788 yards on 47 catches with six touchdowns. The 6-foot-1, 197-pounder also contributed on special teams, an area which should help him tremendously in making the Bucs roster.

Fairview coach Tom McCartney was eagerly awaiting the moment when Bell’s name was called, knowing it was an inevitable piece of the process given Bell’s work ethic.

“We’re just super excited for him and his family, and really just the opportunity,” McCartney said. “In all honestly, I never had a doubt about him. What impressed me most was, when he was a freshman hearing about his leadership playing scout team and stuff, and then you get to watch him play. To see him block, the way he was doing it, to me it was awesome.

“He’s always had those measureables, the height he jumps and the speed. To see him add the other stuff to his game, it’s been great.”

For his career, Bell finished with 181 catches for 2,689 yards and 21 scores. With the Buccaneers, he has a chance to join up with another Colorado product (former Widefield standout Vincent Jackson) and another up-and-coming receiver in Mike Evans. The Buccaneers also had the first pick in the draft this year, taking the much ballyhooed Jameis Winston of Florida State as their quarterback of the future.

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