(Information provided by the USF Athletic Department)
(Tampa, FL) Fresh from leading Valdosta State to the 2018 NCAA Division II championship with the nation’s No. 1 ranked scoring offense in the division (52.0 ppg), Florida native Kerwin Bell has been named the Bulls’ offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach, USF Head Coach Charlie Strong announced Thursday.
Bell, a former standout quarterback and SEC Player of the Year at the University of Florida (1984-87), comes to USF after 12 seasons as a successful head coach leading programs at Valdosta State (2016-18) and Jacksonville University (2007-15) and a 14-year playing career in professional football, which included stops with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1989) and Miami Dolphins (1988).
“I have known Kerwin for more than 30 years and have a great deal of respect for what he has done in his career both as a player and coach and the success of the football programs he has led,” Strong said. “He has directed some very explosive, high-scoring offenses and consistently puts his players in position to reach their highest potential. We are very excited to have Kerwin joining our staff.”
Strong and Bell were first part of the same program during the 1983-84 seasons at Florida, where Strong was serving in his first coaching position as a graduate assistant and Bell was a walk-on quarterback. Bell, a native of Mayo, Fla., earned the Gators’ starting quarterback job as a redshirt freshman in 1984 and went on to earn SEC Player of the Year honors after leading the Gators to a 9-1-1 record, SEC championship and top five national ranking.
Bell most recently served three seasons as the head coach at Valdosta State (2016-18) where he guided the offense and led the Blazers to a 27-7 record, a school-record 15 straight victories, two Division II playoff appearances and conference and national championships in 2018. He was named the 2018 Gulf South Conference Co-Coach of the Year after leading VSU to a 14-0 record (the first unbeaten season in program history) and a 49-47 victory over Ferris State in the Division II National Championship game, the program’s first title since 2012.
Bell’s 2018 offense led the nation in scoring (52.0 ppg), ranked second in first downs (341) and was fourth in total offense (523.9 ypg), red-zone offense (.901) and pass efficiency (167.37).
Bell led VSU to runner-up conference finishes in his first two years guiding the program and went 8-3 with a playoff appearance in his first season at the helm in 2016 as the Blazers led the nation with 27 interceptions.
Prior to VSU, Bell led Jacksonville University for nine seasons, guiding the Football Championship Series program to a 66-35 record and three Pioneer Football League championships. Also serving as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, Bell was named the 2008 PFL Coach of the Year and an Eddie Robinson Award finalist after leading the Dolphins to a 9-4 record and conference title.
Prior to taking over the Jacksonville program, Bell led Trinity Catholic High School in Ocala, Fla, for six seasons (2001-06), earning a Florida 2B state title in 2005 and runner-up finish in 2006.
Bell was selected in the seventh round of the 1988 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins, beginning a 14-year professional career that saw stops with the NFL teams in Miami, Atlanta, Tampa Bay and Indianapolis as well as stops in the Canadian Football League (where he passed for 19,538 yards and 101 touchdowns in nine seasons) and the World League of American Football.
Bell earned a degree in psychology from the University of Florida in 1987. After beginning his career at UF as a walk-on, he was inducted into the University of Florida Athletics Hall of Fame in 1997 following a four-year career (1984-87) that saw him pass for 7,585 yards and 56 touchdowns. He was ranked the No. 26 greatest Gator of all-time from the first 100 years of UF football in 2006 by The Gainesville Sun.
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