Future Rebel Octavian Bell highlights Liberty’s signees

The LV initials on Liberty senior Octavian Bell’s belt buckle usually represent luxury retailer Louis Vuitton. But they carried a dual meaning Wednesday — national signing day — and represented something else, too.

Las Vegas.

As in University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

“I’m 702 reppin’,” he said.

For the next four years.

The dynamic defensive back solidified his future by signing a national letter of intent to play for UNLV, becoming the fourth Patriots senior to sign a Division I football scholarship this year.

Bell’s family and friends celebrated the occasion in Liberty’s cafeteria after school and posed for pictures alongside the future Rebel, who was excited and relieved to officially accept the offer.

“It means the world me,” Bell said. “A lot of my family tried to take football to the next level. Most of them didn’t accomplish (that).”

He did.

Bell came to Liberty as an undersized freshman and didn’t permanently crack the varsity lineup until his junior season. Patriots coach Rich Muraco said he wasn’t sure Bell was a Division I player until he started shutting down top varsity receivers in Las Vegas and beyond.

“He was a little on the shorter side, and he matured and grew,” Muraco said. “He was far and away out best cover corner.”

Bell initially received a scholarship offer from the Rebels after impressing at a summer camp, but fell into poor standing with the program as he struggled academically.

They monitored him throughout the course of his senior year to ensure his grades improved, though, and he embarked on his official visit late last month before committing.

For good.

“They were just telling me to make better choices on what I say and what I do,” Bell said. “They’re showing me that they want me to become a better person overall and build my character. And I appreciate that.”

Muraco, delighted with the afternoon’s proceedings, also honored fellow seniors Davion Ware (Dixie State), Marquez Powell (Arizona Western Community College) and Ishmel Byrd (Wisconsin-River Falls).

Former Liberty quarterback Kenyon Oblad is already at UNLV, but Patriots standouts Crishuan Lappin (UNR) and Allan Mwata (San Diego State), who signed their scholarship offers in December, were at the commitment festivities to support their former teammates.

“It makes me proud because the kids listen and they do the work in the classroom,” Muraco said. “The younger kids see it. They see the kids getting offered, and they know what it takes.”

Following in family’s footsteps

Basic senior defensive back Jordan Gallegos’ parents met while attending New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas, New Mexico.

Maybe he’ll meet his future spouse there, too.

Gallegos signed a national letter of intent Wednesday to continue his playing career at his parents’ alma mater, ending a lengthy recruiting process for one of the state’s most productive defensive players.

His father, David, grew up in New Mexico, and Gallegos has family that still lives there. He said he’s excited to go there for football reasons.

Not romantic ones.

“I’m pretty picky nowadays,” he said jokingly. “We’ll see what happens.”

Gators lineman to take ACT

Green Valley senior offensive lineman Eric Brown, who committed to UNLV in November, did not sign a national letter of intent Wednesday, according to Gators coach Brian Castro.

Sources close to the Rebels program said Tuesday there was concern about Brown’s academic standing, and Castro confirmed the 6-foot-5-inch, 335-pounder will take the ACT entrance exam this weekend.

Brown, an all-state selection, chose UNLV over UNR, Hawaii and Dixie State.

Contact reporter Sam Gordon at Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.