NFL scouts will flock to Sam Boyd Stadium on Saturday primarily to watch Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan — but that also means more eyes will be on UNLV linebacker Beau Bell.
If Bell builds on his already strong play in the 6:30 p.m. game, he could make quite an impression on potential future employers.
As of Wednesday, 14 scouts had requested credentials for Saturday’s game. Those scouts represent nine NFL clubs and one Canadian Football League team. It is the second-highest number of scouts for a UNLV game (17 attended the 2003 game against Hawaii).
“It probably would help me, but I’m just really focused on helping the team,” Bell said. “That’s the main thing. We’re trying to go out there and get a win. You can’t worry about yourself in football. You’ve got to worry about the people around you.”
Regardless, there is little doubt Bell (6 feet 3 inches, 245 pounds) could become an early draft pick. NFL.com analyst Gil Brandt has projected Bell as a high second-round selection, listing him as his top senior inside linebacker.
Bell has justified such expectations with a strong start.
He made nine tackles and forced two fumbles in UNLV’s 23-16 win at Utah State. Then in Saturday’s 20-13 loss to Wisconsin, Bell led UNLV with 10 tackles, one time leaping over tailback P.J. Hill to sack Tyler Donovan.
UNLV gives a Hard Hat Award each game to the “blue-collar” player who stands out, and Bell won the honor in both games.
“He’s really playing well,” coach Mike Sanford said. “The key thing is that Beau keeps playing like that.”
To do so, linebackers coach Dennis Therrell said, Bell needs to “be consistent. He’s got all the physical talent.”
That has never been questioned. Bell made 76 tackles, including nine for loss and four sacks, through seven games last season before a high ankle sprain ended his season.
He can only hope to continue his success against the highly touted Brennan, whom most scouts will be focused on.
Brennan, with 10 touchdown passes in Hawaii’s first two games, could be the first quarterback taken in next year’s draft.
As for Bell’s prospects, Therrell cautioned about reading too much into this game, noting the linebacker will be picked over by NFL scouts many times before April.
“I think any time you walk on a football field, you’ve got to be prepared to make an impression,” Therrell said. “Scouts are going to watch every game, and they’re going to analyze every play.
“When they come to watch, they’re not coming to find out if you can play. They’re coming to find out why you can’t play in the NFL.”
• NOTES — A crowd of at least 32,000 is expected, and the number could come closer to the 34,287 who showed up for Hawaii’s visit in 2003. … For the fourth time since 2002, the Rebels have a member of the 11-player American Football Coaches Association Good Works Team. Wide receiver Casey Flair picked up the honor for his off-field work in Las Vegas and in his hometown of Anchorage, Alaska, where he created and operates a football camp every summer. In Las Vegas, Flair works with a recreation center and is part of UNLV’s outreach program. … The Warriors remained on the mainland after playing at Louisiana Tech on Saturday. They are practicing at Rice University in Houston.UNLV Football