PULLMAN – Washington State’s most experienced player will make his long-awaited return to the field this weekend.
After spending four weeks sidelined with an injury, veteran slot receiver Renard Bell is expected to work back into the lineup when the Cougars visit Arizona for an 11 a.m. kickoff Saturday.
Coach Jake Dickert confirmed Wednesday that Bell, a senior team captain, is “ready to go” and will take on a limited workload versus the Wildcats.
“He’ll have a little bit lesser role than his full-time role, because he’s building back into it,” Dickert said. “But, man, fresh legs are good to see. … He’s like a bolt of lightning in yellow (a noncontact jersey) across the field right now. Renard’s mentality is unbelievable.”
Bell suffered an unspecified arm injury early in an Oct. 8 game at USC.
He wore a sling on his right arm for about two weeks, then participated in some light drills during warmup periods before the team’s two most recent games.
“This is a tough injury to deal with,” Dickert said, “but to get back the way he has, and his ‘want-to’ … it’s the best medicine out there.”
Bell provided valuable insights from the sideline for four games. But adding his guidance and charisma back to the huddle will go a long way toward WSU’s offensive success, Dickert noted.
“His leadership has grown so much through the year, and to have him back, that presence is going to be like a Nakia-type of comeback, as far as what he brings intangiblewise,” Dickert said, referencing tailback Nakia Watson, who returned to the lineup Nov. 5 against Stanford after missing two weeks with an injury and sparked WSU’s offense with 353 yards and four touchdowns from scrimmage across the past two games.
“When he’s out there, everyone looks at him like, ‘There’s that alpha dog.’ That’s what Renard is. We’re excited to have him back.”
The Los Angeles native became a WSU standout as a redshirt freshman in 2017 and established himself as a program stalwart over the next three seasons. He suffered a season-ending ACL injury ahead of the 2021 campaign and took a medical redshirt, electing to return to the Cougars for a seventh and final year.
Bell was a big-play threat and perhaps the Cougars’ most reliable offensive playmaker for the first five games of this season, registering 282 yards and two touchdowns on 20 catches. After overcoming an injury that derailed most of his final season, Bell will head into the last three-game stretch of his collegiate career with extra motivation.
“It’s everything to him,” Dickert said. “Renard has given so much to this program. It’s special to watch. It’s special to me. He wanted to stick around. He wanted to finish it here. He wanted to be a part of what we wanted to do and keep building our program.
“I’m proud of Renard. I really am. What he’s given us is tremendous. And what he’s given this university. … This kid has done a lot and I’m just proud of him and excited to keep him finishing his career out.”
The 5-foot-9, 173-pound Bell has totaled 1,938 yards and 18 touchdowns on 167 receptions in a WSU uniform.
He is 10 catches away from moving into the program’s top 10 for career receptions. He sits in a tie for 10th in WSU history in TD grabs. With one more scoring catch, he’d move into a tie for seventh.
Bell is 244 yards back of 10th place in WSU career receiving yardage.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the Cougs newsletter
Get the latest Cougs headlines delivered to your inbox as they happen.