USF has made its next offensive coordinator official as Valdosta State head coach Kerwin Bell has been tabbed to take the reigns of the Bulls offense.
Alison Posey of ABC 27 originally broke the news on Wednesday night and it was made official by the school on Thursday.
Bell fills the space left behind by much maligned former OC Sterlin Gilbert, who accepted the head coaching job at McNeese State in early December. We’re working on getting details of his contract when made available to us.
“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,” USF head coach Charlie Strong said in an official statement. “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.”
The former VSU head coach turned heads this past fall when leading the Blazers to a perfect 14-0 record and a Division II national championship in just his third season at the helm.
His offense in particular set the DII world on fire by averaging a nation-best 52 points per game while putting up 523.9 yards per game on 7.89 yards per play. Redshirt sophomore quarterback and Harlon Hill Trophy runner-up Rogan Wells threw for over 3,000 yards and 38 touchdowns while freshman tailback and Miami native Jamar Thompkins ran for over 1,300 yards on 9.7(!) yards per carry and nine touchdowns.
To put this into further perspective, Bell and Val. State put these numbers up in the Gulf South Conference, which many have labeled as the toughest conference in Division II. (Note from Nick: I cover the University of West Georgia in Carrollton, who had a top-ten defense in the country and were national title contenders in their own right...Valdosta still dropped 47 points and nearly 600 yards on them in the last week of the regular season.)
The Live Oak, FL, native got his first shot as a head coach at Ocala Trinity Catholic High School from 2001-2006, where he won a state championship in 2005 with future UF signal caller John Brantley manning the offense.
Afterwards, he took over the upstart non-scholarship Jacksonville University football program, leading them to three Pioneer League titles before taking off for Valdosta in 2016.
The “Throwin’ Mayoan” made a name for himself around the Sunshine State as the starting quarterback of UF in the mid-80’s, leading the Gators to back-to-back 9-1-1 seasons and the program’s first ever SEC championship in 1984 (a league title that would be vacated due to NCAA violations.)
We’ll have a more comprehensive breakdown of Bell’s offensive philosophy and how it could potentially impact USF later.