TAMPA — Former Florida quarterback Kerwin Bell was named USF’s new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, the school announced Thursday night on its website.
Bell led Valdosta State (Ga.) to a 14-0 record and Division II national title this past season. He replaces Sterlin Gilbert, who was named coach at I-AA McNeese State in December.
“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,” Bulls coach Charlie 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.”
In three seasons at Valdosta, Bell compiled a 27-7 record. His 2018 Blazers squad finished fourth among Division II teams in total offense (523.9 ypg) and led the nation in yards per play (7.89). The Blazers were 28th in passing offense (261.3 ypg) but first in yards per completion (15.2) and touchdown passes (50).
Before arriving in south Georgia, Bell compiled a 66-35 record in nine seasons at Jacksonville, a non-scholarship program. His contract wasn’t renewed following the 2015 season after a philosophical dispute with administrators regarding the program’s future.
He began his coaching career as an offensive coordinator with the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts in 2000, then started the program at Ocala Trinity Catholic in 2001. Four seasons later, the Celtics were Class 2B state champions.
A graduate of Lafayette County High in Mayo, Bell, a walk-on, was thrust into UF’s starting role days before the 1984 season opener when Dale Dorminey suffered a knee injury, and led the Gators to consecutive 9-1-1 seasons.
Bell was named SEC Player of the Year in 1984, when the Gators won the conference title on the field but later were forced to vacate it due to NCAA violations uncovered during the Charley Pell era. In four seasons, Bell threw for more than 7,500 yards and 56 touchdowns, leading UF to a pair of wins against Georgia and three against FSU.
He followed that with a journeyman pro career that included five passes (all completions) in the NFL and nearly 20,000 passing yards in nine CFL seasons.
The Tampa Bay Times contributed to this report.