Gators secondary coach Bell ready to take over 'DBU'


New Florida defensive back coach Corey Bell talks with reporters after being introduced at a news conference Thursday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

Published: Friday, February 17, 2017 at 12:35 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, February 17, 2017 at 12:35 p.m.

With his strong ties to south Florida, Miami native Corey Bell is expected to be a dynamic recruiter for Florida in that part of the state. But the new UF secondary coach’s first priority will be settling in at his new job and taking over "DBU (Defensive Back University)."

He has a strong tradition to uphold — and he will have to do it without probable first-round draft picks Quincy Wilson and Jalen Tabor and safety Marcus Maye.

"I actually busted his chops a little bit today about the fact that I think there's a bunch of first or second-rounders that have come out of here at that position, so he's got a heck of a tradition to uphold and yet has some great guys to work with,” UF coach Jim McElwain said. “I think his comfort level and coach Randy Shannon's comfort level with each other and what they're teaching, that fits to our defense. I know I'm excited to see him work and I know our guys have been excited being around him.”

McElwain formally introduced Bell and his two other new coaching hires (Brad Davis and Ja’Juan Seider) at a news conference Thursday. Bell spent about 10 minutes at the podium. Here’s what he had to say:

Q: What can you say about the challenge of replacing the lost talent that is expected to go early in the NFL draft?

A: “Absolutely. And rightfully so. But it’s a thing for the fans in terms of tradition and all that. With Teez (Tabor) and Quincy (Wilson), those are guys that obviously can’t be replaced. But you have some young guys you’ve got to develop in Chauncey (Gardner) and all those guys. So it’s about developing young guys and putting them in positions to be successful.”

Q: How much have you been able to familiarize yourself with the talent you are inheriting?

A: “Well, I’ve done some research. I’ve looked at film. I’ve met with the guys, of course. I had the chance to speak with them up close, one-on-one. So in that respect it’s been good. Now it’s just about developing some depth. You know, you have some guys on the roster that probably haven’t played much, but it’s my job to develop them and make sure they’re ready to go.”

Q: When did McElwain call you and offer you the job?

A: “I’ve been knowing Mac for a while. Maybe a week ago or so, I was at home and they gave me a call. It happened rather fast. It was a situation where I asked him to reach out to (USF) coach (Charlie) Strong because I was with Coach Strong at the time. Once they had the conversation, then Mac and I had a second conversation. So it happened within 72 hours, actually.

Q: In recruiting, what are you looking for in DB recruits? Taller? Physical? Athletic? Best available?

A: “Actually, all in one. All those things you mentioned, I’ll take them. You know, so you like some guys with some length, guys that play with a bend. And of course, vertical speed. You want that as well. But also them being able to learn what you’re teaching is critical. So we’ve got to get guys on the board. Like I said, they’re in for the process.”

Q: Do your prefer man or zone coverage?

A: “It all depends on schematics in terms of defense, in terms of what the coordinator is running. You know, whether it’s off, man, press, I can teach it all. So it’s all predicated on what the defensive coordinator wants to do.

Q: What are your thoughts on some of the veteran players, guys like Gardner, Marcell Harris and Duke Dawson?

A: Of course, those guys have some game experience. Some little things we just have to tweak, but for the most part, it’s just putting those guys out there and letting them play within the scheme of things. And then having the young guys come along. You know, in that respect, it’s a great situation that you have some guys with game experience, but you also have some guys that don’t have game experience that you’ve got to bring along. It’s just a catch-22 in terms of that situation. But it’ll work itself out as we move forward.”

Q: Why did you want to come to Florida?

A: “Well, just the opportunity to be back in the SEC. You know, I played in the SEC, and now I have an opportunity to be back in the SEC. And long story short, when Coach Strong was here during his first stint (as the defensive coordinator), he recruited me. You know, and I actually committed here. And that was a long time ago, of course, but I always wanted to be a Gator. Now I have the opportunity to be that, so I took advantage of it."

Q: How did the conversation go with Strong?

A: "Very supportive. Very supportive in terms of that. The one thing he knew was I would do things the right way. I wouldn't have a conversation without him and Mac having a conversation first. I let those two speak and they were both very supportive in the move."

Q: What was your reaction when Coach Mac called?

A: "Surprised, yeah. Surprised by the call at the time. It was very early in the morning. So, yeah."

Q: What sort of relationship do you have with Randy Shannon?

A: We've been friends for a very long time and I worked for him. Looking forward to getting back with him and working with him. I've been waiting on this opportunity for a while and it finally came. Very looking forward to it."

Q: You committed to UF but ended up at South Carolina. What happened?

A: "Actually, when that happened I think, right after, I think Galen Hall was the head guy and he was released. Of course, you know, when those kind of things happen, the recruiting process goes in different directions. So I ended up going to South Carolina."

Q: Why do you have a reputation for being such a strong recruiter in south Florida?

A: "Maybe because I'm a good guy, I would think. It's just due diligence. It's just doing what I need to do. People respect you and the things you do, if you're truly invested in your kids and helping them grow toward maturation. That's a big part of it. When you're doing things the right way, people respect that and you're doing it at a high level and doing it consistently."

Q: Are you looking forward to reuniting with Chris Rumph, a former teammate at South Carolina?

A: "Absolutely. It picks up where it left off. We were great friends then. We stayed in touch over the years and now we get the opportunity to actually work together. We spent a lot of time laughing then and now we're on the other side of it where we get to laugh and be in the business together. It's a great situation for us."

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