|Western Carolina Catamounts|
|Born:||June 15, 1965|
Live Oak, Florida
|Height:||6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)|
|Weight:||207 lb (94 kg)|
|High school:||Lafayette County (FL)|
|NFL Draft:||1988 / Round: 7 / Pick: 180|
|As a player:|
|* Offseason and/or practice squad member only|
|As a coach:|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career CFL statistics|
|Head coaching record|
|Player stats at NFL.com · PFR|
Kerwin Douglas Bell (born June 15, 1965) is an American football coach and former player who is currently the Head Coach of the Western Carolina Catamounts football team. Bell was born in the North Central Florida town of Live Oak and was a star high school football quarterback at Lafayette County High School in nearby Mayo, Florida. Bell did not attract the attention of top college football programs while playing at the small high school, so he decided to attend the University of Florida in nearby Gainesville and joined the Gators as a walk-on.
After being redshirted during his first season at the school, Bell became the Gators' quarterback in 1984 when the senior starter was injured in practice days before the season opening game, a neutral site match-up with the defending national champion Miami Hurricanes in what was one of the first national college football broadcasts on ESPN. The Gators lost when Miami scored in the closing minutes but Bell had performed well, and the freshman kept the starting job. Even as head coach Charley Pell was fired mid-season due to NCAA rules violations, Bell led the Gators to a 9–1–1 record and was named the Southeastern Conference (SEC) player of the year for 1984. Bell would remain the Gators' starter for four seasons and was named to several more All-SEC and All-American lists before graduating in 1987.
After college, Bell played professionally in the National Football League (NFL), World League of American Football (WLAF) and the Canadian Football League (CFL) for fourteen seasons in the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s. Though he started dozens of games in the WLAF and the CFL, he never started an NFL contest and threw only five regular season passes in his NFL career. However, he completed all five of those passes for 75 yards and a touchdown, leaving him with the highest career passer rating in league history, albeit in a very small sample size.
After retiring as a player, Bell returned to Florida and served as the head football coach at Trinity High School in Ocala from 2001 to 2006, winning a state championship in 2005. He became the head coach at NCAA Division 1 (FCS) Jacksonville University in 2007 and led the Dolphins to their first three conference championships during his nine seasons at the school. Bell moved to Valdosta State University in 2016, and in 2018, he led the Blazers to their first undefeated season and the 2018 NCAA D-II national championship on the strength of the highest scoring offense in college football.Bell served as the offensive coordinator for the Bulls of the University of South Florida (USF) during the 2019 season. USF head coach Charlie Strong was fired after a disappointing season, and Bell was dismissed along with the rest of the staff. In January 2020, Bell was hired as an offensive analysis for the Florida Gators.
Bell was born in Live Oak, Florida in North Central Florida to Doyle and Zelda Bell and grew up in nearby Mayo, Florida, population 800.His parents were tobacco farmers, and Kerwin helped with various farming tasks throughout his youth. Bell attended Lafayette County High School, where he was the president of the student council and a multi-sport athlete, playing shortstop on the baseball team, leading the basketball team in scoring as a starting guard, and starting at quarterback on the football team. In 1981, he led the Lafayette Hornets to their only state football championship, earning the nickname "The Throwin' Mayoan."
Despite his prep success, Bell was lightly recruited during his senior year with no athletic scholarship offers from major football programs, as his rural high school had competed in the lowest division of Florida high school football and coaches were unsure if he could succeed against top collegiate talent.Instead of attending a smaller college, Bell decided to walk-on at the University of Florida in nearby Gainesville and join the Florida Gators football team without an athletic scholarship. He was eighth on the Gators' quarterback depth chart during his freshman season of 1983 under head coach Galen Hall and was redshirted without playing in a game.
Bell was the Gators' backup quarterback coming into the 1984 season due to his consistent performance on the practice field and the fact that several quarterbacks ahead of him on the depth chart had graduated, transferred, or were injured. When senior starter Dale Dorminey suffered a serious knee injury four days before the Gators' first game, Bell was suddenly thrust into the starting role. The Gators opened the 1984 season against the defending national champion Miami Hurricanes in Tampa Stadium in one of the first college football games to be nationally televised by ESPN. In his first collegiate start, Bell threw a touchdown pass with under a minute remaining to give the Gators the lead, only to have Miami quarterback Bernie Kosar lead the Hurricanes to a winning score with seven seconds remaining.
The Gators would not lose another game during Bell's redshirt freshman season. Behind an outstanding offensive line, memorably dubbed "The Great Wall of Florida," and which included Phil Bromley, Lomas Brown, Billy Hinson, Crawford Ker and Jeff Zimmerman, and supported by fullback John L. Williams, halfback Neal Anderson and wide receiver Ricky Nattiel, Bell led the Gators to a 9–1–1 record, an SEC championship, and a top-5 national ranking.
However, due to NCAA infractions committed under coach Charley Pell, the Gators' were ineligible for bowl consideration, and their SEC championship was vacated months after the 1984 season ended. In 1985, now with a full scholarship, Bell led the Gators to a second consecutive 9–1–1 record. Though ineligible for the conference championship, the Gators finished with best-in-the-conference records of 5–0–1 and 5–1 in 1984 and 1985 and briefly held their first ever No. 1 ranking in the AP poll during the 1985 season.
Due to the effects of ongoing NCAA penalties, the Gators' record slipped to 6–5 in 1986 and 6–6 in 1987, Bell's junior and senior seasons. A highlight of those campaigns was Florida's upset of the No. 5 and undefeated Auburn Tigers in November 1986. Bell had injured his knee a month prior and did not start the game. But with the Gators trailing 17–0 in the fourth quarter, he entered the contest wearing a large knee brace and led his team to a dramatic 18–17 comeback win, capped with a last-minute touchdown pass to Ricky Nattiel followed by Bell himself "hobbling" into the endzone for a successful two-point conversion.
Bell was the Southeastern Conference (SEC) Player of the Year in 1984, an honorable mention All-American in 1985 and 1986, a first-team All-SEC selection in 1985, and the recipient of the Gators' Fergie Ferguson Award and a team captain in 1987.He finished his four-year college career with 549 completions on 949 passing attempts, for 7,585 yards and fifty-six touchdowns.
Bell graduated from Florida with a bachelor's degree in psychology in 1987, and was inducted into the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame as a "Gator Great" in 1997.Among the top 100 Gators of the first 100 years of Florida football, the sportswriters of The Gainesville Sun ranked him the No. 26 greatest Gator of all time in 2006.
Bell had a well-traveled football career. He was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the seventh round (180th pick overall) of the 1988 NFL Draft,and spent the season on the Dolphins' practice squad. He spent part of 1989 as the Buccaneers' third-team quarterback, but a serious knee injury ended his season and prevented him from playing at all in 1990. In 1991, Bell finally got a chance to start with the Orlando Thunder of the World League of American Football and threw for 2,214 yards, and was the Thunder's backup quarterback in 1992 when the team went to the World Bowl.
Bell began a seven-year Canadian Football League career in 1993, with the Sacramento Gold Miners, part of the failed CFL expansion into the United States.As a back-up quarterback in 1993, Bell threw for 296 yards, but his passing production increased to 1,812 yards in 1994. Bell played for the Edmonton Eskimos in 1995.
In 1996, Bell landed a roster spot with the Indianapolis Colts of the NFL, and in week 15 he entered the game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Bell attempted five passes and completed all of them, throwing for 75 yards and a touchdown on the day.He never again threw a pass in a regular season NFL game, leaving him with the highest career passer rating of any quarterback in NFL history. He was the Colts' third team quarterback in 1997 but did not play in a regular season game.
Bell returned to the CFL in 1998 with the Toronto Argonauts and had his best professional year. He threw for 4,991 yards and 27 touchdowns and set a lead record with a completion percentage of 67.3%, earning him a spot on the CFL All-Star team.He signed with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and again passed for over 4000 yards in 1999, but was injured early in 2000 and was traded back to Toronto, where he remained until retiring after the 2001 season. Bell played for the Argonauts more than any other team in his career, passing for 8,811 career yards in forty-six regular season games with Toronto. Overall, Bell played in 126 regular season CFL games, completed 1,560 passes in 2,558 attempts, and threw 101 touchdowns.
Bell first coached in 1990, when his playing career was temporarily interrupted by a serious knee injury. Bell returned to the University of Florida while rehabilitating to serve as a graduate assistant coach under Steve Spurrier, who was in his first season as the Gators' head ball coach. Bell remained in Gainesville for only one season, as he resumed his playing career in the summer of 1991 with the Orlando Thunder of the WLAF. However, working under Spurrier and watching the "Fun 'n' Gun" offense in games and in practice would have a strong influence on Bell's future offensive philosophies. “The spacing and just the concepts of the routes and the rhythm of the system. That’s almost perfection and that’s what I try to obtain every day in practice,” he said in 2019.
Bell next coached in 2001, when he served as the co-offensive coordinator for the Toronto Argonauts during his last season as an active player.
After retiring as a player, Bell returned to his home state to become the first head football coach at brand-new Trinity Catholic High School in Ocala, Florida, which fielded its first varsity team in 2002.The program grew quickly under Bell, with the Celtics making the district playoffs in their second season. In 2005, Trinity went 14-0 and won the Florida 2A state high school football championship on the strength of a prolific passing attack that produced 41 touchdown passes against 5 interceptions. Trinity went undefeated for a second consecutive regular season in 2006 and lost in the state championship game, ending a 27-game winning streak.
In 2007, Bell became the head coach of the Jacksonville Dolphins, a non-scholarship NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) football program representing Jacksonville University.In Bell's second season, the JU Dolphins went 9–4 and won the Pioneer Football League (PFL) championship, and Bell was recognized as the PFL Coach of the Year and was a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Award. The Dolphins won another PFL championship in 2010 with a 10–1 record.
During his tenure at Jacksonville, Bell was rumored to be a candidate for coaching positions at major college programs and confirmed a 2011 interview for the offensive coordinator position with the Florida Gators.Regarding other job options, Bell stated that he intended to build a "strong legacy" at Jacksonville University and would only leave for "the right situation".
Despite compiling a 66–35 record and winning three PFL championships at a school that had only posted one winning season before his arrival, Bell's contract was not renewed after the 2015 season.The school's administration announced that the decision was due to "philosophical differences" stemming from the fact that the school wanted to keep the non-scholarship football program as-is while Bell had publicly speculated that the JU could eventually develop a major FCS football program by offering scholarships.
In January 2016, Bell was named the new head coach of the Blazers of Valdosta State University, a scholarship football program that competes in NCAA Division II.
In 2018, Bell led the Blazers to the program's first undefeated season (14–0) and the Division II National Championship.The Blazers led D-II in scoring with 52 points per game and scored the most points in Gulf South Conference history.
In January 2019, Bell was named the offensive coordinator for the South Florida Bulls by head coach Charlie Strong, who knew Bell from several stints as an assistant coach at the University of Florida.Bell was given "total control" of the Bulls' offense, which had stagnated before his arrival. USF suffered through a disappointing 4–8 2019 season, resulting in the dismissal of Strong. Incoming head coach Jeff Scott opted to build a new staff, and Bell was dismissed along with the rest of Strong's assistant coaches on December 16.
Bell was hired as the 14th head coach at Western Carolina on April 27, 2021.
Kerwin Bell married the former Cosette Odom in 1986, while they were both students at the University of Florida. The two had first met in kindergarten in their hometown of Mayo, and at the time of their marriage, Cosette was Florida's majorette captain while Kerwin was the Gators' star quarterback.Their son, Kade Bell, joined his father's coaching staff at Valdosta State and was the primary playcaller during their national championship season in 2018. Kade also joined his father's staff at USF.
|Jacksonville Dolphins (Pioneer Football League)(2007–2015)|
|2008||Jacksonville||9–4||7–1||1st||L Gridiron Classic|
|Jacksonville:||66–35||52–19||*Official record was 0–0 due to rules violations|
|Valdosta State Blazers (Gulf South Conference)(2016–2018)|
|2016||Valdosta State||8–3||6–2||T–2nd||L NCAA Division II First Round||18|
|2018||Valdosta State||14–0||8–0||1st||W NCAA Division II Championship||1|
|National championship Conference title Conference division title or championship game berth|
The Florida–Georgia football rivalry is an American college football rivalry game played annually by the University of Florida Gators and the University of Georgia Bulldogs, both members of the Eastern Division of the Southeastern Conference. The programs first met in 1904 or 1915 and have played every season since 1926 except for a war-time interruption in 1943. It is one of the most prominent rivalry games in college football, and it has been held in Jacksonville, Florida since 1933, with only two exceptions, making it one of the few remaining neutral-site rivalries in college football. The game attracts huge crowds to Jacksonville, and the associated tailgating and other events earned it the nickname of the "World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party", although that name is no longer used officially.
Stephen Orr Spurrier is a former American football player and coach often referred to by his nickname, "Head Ball Coach". Steve Spurrier was born in Miami Beach, Florida and grew up in Tennessee, where he was a multi-sport all-state athlete at Science Hill High School in Johnson City. He attended the University of Florida, where he won the 1966 Heisman Trophy as a college football quarterback with the Florida Gators. The San Francisco 49ers picked him in the first round of the 1967 NFL draft, and he spent a decade playing professionally in the National Football League (NFL), mainly as a backup quarterback and punter. Spurrier was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a player in 1986.
Michael Rene Mularkey is a former American football coach and tight end in the National Football League (NFL). He played college football for the University of Florida, and was drafted in the ninth round of the 1983 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers, who cut him soon afterward. He then signed with the Minnesota Vikings with whom he played for six seasons before playing another three with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Isaac Jason Hilliard is a former American football wide receiver and current wide receivers coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football for the University of Florida, and earned All-American honors. He was a first-round pick by the New York Giants in the 1997 NFL Draft, and also played professionally for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Michael Shane Matthews is an American former professional football player who was a quarterback in the National Football League (NFL) for all or part of fourteen seasons during the 1990s and 2000s. He played college football for the Florida Gators, where he was coach Steve Spurrier's first starting QB at the school and was named the Southeastern Conference (SEC) player of the year in 1991 and 1992. Thereafter, he played professionally for the Chicago Bears, Washington Redskins, and four other NFL teams. Since retiring as a player, Matthews has lived near his college alma mater in North Central Florida, where he has hosted a sports talk radio program and coached high school football. In 2017, Matthews pled guilty to having unwittingly played a small part in a large health care fraud organized by former Florida teammate Monty Grow.
Christopher Patrick Leak is an American football coach and former gridiron football quarterback. He played college football for the University of Florida, and led the Florida Gators to victory in the 2007 BCS National Championship Game. Leak played professionally for the Chicago Bears of the National Football League (NFL), the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League (CFL), and the Jacksonville Sharks and Orlando Predators of the Arena Football League (AFL).
Brian Cornelius Schottenheimer is an American football coach who is the passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars of the National Football League (NFL). He previously served as the offensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks, New York Jets, St. Louis Rams and the University of Georgia and also served as the quarterbacks coach for the Washington Redskins, San Diego Chargers, and Indianapolis Colts.
The 2006 Florida Gators football team represented the University of Florida in the sport of American football during the 2006 college football season. The Gators competed in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the Eastern Division of the Southeastern Conference (SEC), and played their home games at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on the university's Gainesville, Florida campus. The season was the second for head coach Urban Meyer, who led the Gators to an SEC Championship, a BCS National Championship, and an overall win-loss record of 13–1 (.929).
D'Tanyian Jacquez "Quezi" Green is an American former college and professional football player who was a wide receiver and punt returner in the National Football League (NFL) for five seasons during the 1990s and early 2000s. Green played college football for the University of Florida, and earned All-American honors. He was a second-round pick in the 1998 NFL Draft, and played professionally for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Washington Redskins and the Detroit Lions of the NFL.
Reidel Clarence Anthony is a former American football wide receiver who played in the National Football League (NFL) from 1997 to 2001. Anthony played college football for the University of Florida, and received consensus All-American honors. He was a first-round pick in the 1997 NFL Draft, and played professionally for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the NFL.
Ricky Rennard Nattiel, nicknamed "Ricky the Rocket," is an American former college and professional football player who was a wide receiver in the National Football League (NFL) for six seasons during the 1980s and 1990s. Nattiel played college football for the University of Florida, and thereafter, he played professionally for the Denver Broncos of the NFL.
Chris Hatcher is an American football coach and former player. He is the head football coach at Samford University, a position he has held since 2014. Hatcher served as the head football coach at Valdosta State University from 2000 to 2006, Georgia Southern University from 2007 to 2009, and Murray State University from 2010 to 2014. His Valdosta State Blazers won the NCAA Division II Football Championship in 2004. Hatcher played college football as a quarterback at Valdosta State from 1991 to 1994.
Ernest Lee Mills, III is an American former American football wide receiver in the National Football League for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Carolina Panthers and Dallas Cowboys. He played college football at the University of Florida.
Jarvis Eric Williams, Sr. was an American college and professional football player who was a defensive back in the National Football League (NFL) for seven seasons during the 1980s and 1990s. Williams played college football for the University of Florida, and was recognized as an All-American. Thereafter, he played professionally for the Miami Dolphins and the New York Giants of the NFL. Williams died unexpectedly at the age of 45.
The Florida–Tennessee football rivalry, sometimes referred to as the "Third Saturday in September", is an American college football rivalry between the Florida Gators football team of the University of Florida and Tennessee Volunteers football team of the University of Tennessee, who first met on the football field in 1916. The Gators and Vols have competed in the same athletic conference since Florida joined the now-defunct Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association in 1910, and the schools were founding members of the Southeastern Conference in 1932. Despite this long conference association, a true rivalry did not develop until the early 1990s due to the infrequency of earlier meetings; in the first seventy-six years (1916–91) of the series, the two teams met just twenty-one times. The Southeastern Conference (SEC) expanded to twelve universities and split into two divisions in 1992. Florida and Tennessee were placed in the SEC's East Division and have met on a home-and-home basis every season since. Their rivalry quickly blossomed in intensity and importance in the 1990s and early 2000s as both programs regularly fielded national championship contending teams under coaches Phil Fulmer of Tennessee and Steve Spurrier at Florida.
The 1986 Florida Gators football team represented the University of Florida during the 1986 NCAA Division I-A football season. The season was Galen Hall's third as the head coach of the Florida Gators football team. The 1986 Florida Gators compiled a 6–5 overall record and a Southeastern Conference (SEC) record of 2–4, tying for 7th place among Ten SEC teams. This was the last year that Florida lost to the Kentucky Wildcats until 2018. This was the longest annual win streak of any team over another in NCAA history and the longest such streak in Southeastern Conference history.
The 1990 Florida Gators football team represented the University of Florida during the 1990 NCAA Division I-A football season. The season marked the return of the Gators' Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Steve Spurrier to his alma mater as the new head coach of the Florida Gators football team.
The Valdosta State football team represents Valdosta State University in football. The Blazers are a member of the Gulf South Conference (GSC) in NCAA Division II. Valdosta State University has had a football team since 1981. The Blazers play in Bazemore–Hyder Stadium in Valdosta, Georgia, which has a capacity of 11,249. The stadium is also the home of the historical Valdosta High School Wildcats. The Blazers have won a total of four Division II National Championship titles.
The Auburn–Florida football rivalry is an American college football rivalry between the Auburn Tigers football team of Auburn University and Florida Gators football team of the University of Florida. Both universities are founding members of the Southeastern Conference (SEC), and both were members of the Southern Conference before 1933.
Lamar Bruce Bennett Jr. was an American college and professional football player who was a safety in the Canadian Football League (CFL) for seven seasons during the 1960s and early 1970s. Bennett played college football for the University of Florida, and was recognized as an All-American. Thereafter, he played professionally for the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the CFL.