TAMPA — Kerwin Bell could be headed back to Florida.
The Valdosta State national championship coach that starred at the University of Florida before coaching at Trinity Christian High School in Ocala, Fla., and Jacksonville University could become South Florida’s offensive coordinator, according to a report from WTXL-TV in Tallahassee.
The possible move to USF comes after three years at the helm of Division II powerhouse VSU. Bell led the Blazers to their fourth national championship in December. VSU held off Ferris State 49-47 in the championship game, completing a 14-0 season, the first unbeaten campaign in school history.
The title came on the strength of a record-setting offense, which Bell will now try to replicate with the Bulls, who lost their final six games to finish 7-6 last season.
The Blazers, with Kade Bell calling the plays under his father’s guidance, averaged 52 points per game with 728 points for the season, setting new school and Gulf South Conference records for both. VSU also set new school records for rushing yards (3,676 yards total and 262.6 yards per game) and total offense (7,334 yards total and 523.9 yards per game), while closing. The total offense yardage also set a new GSC record.
USF, meanwhile, averaged just shy of 30 points per game while rushing for 208 yards per game with an additional 240 yards per game coming through the air. The Bulls were held to 20 or fewer points four times during the season-ending losing streak, including the final three games.
A high-powered offense is nothing new for Bell and his teams, though. VSU averaged nearly 35 points per game during Bell’s first season in 2016 while throwing for more than 300 yards per game. The Blazers, despite not making the playoffs in 2017, closed with a flourish, averaging 39.4 points the final five games of that season, serving as a springboard for the big 2018 campaign.
That came after a nine-year stint at Jacksonville where Bell led the Dolphins to a 66-35 record. VSU went 27-7 during Bell's three years at the helm.
Four times under Bell's watch, the Dolphins averaged more than 400 yards per game offensively, topped by the 522.7 yards per game it produced per game in 2013. That year, Jacksonville averaged 331.5 yards passing per game and averaged 41.8 points per game. The Dolphins also threw for more than 300 yards per game in 2014 and three other times averaged more than 290 yards passing per game. Jacksonville averaged 42.2 points per game in 2010, the highest mark under Bell.
Prior to his coaching career, which began as an offensive coordinator while still playing with the Toronto Argonauts before becoming the head coach at Trinity Christian in Ocala, Bell quarterbacked Lafayette High (Mayo, Fla.) to its lone state championship in 1981.
Bell, the “Throwin’ Mayoan” then walked on at Florida before becoming a star with a stellar career in which he threw for 7,586 yards and 56 touchdowns in earning Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year accolades in 1984 and, ultimately, induction into the UF Athletic Hall of Fame in 1997. Bell played professionally in the National Football League as well as the Canadian Football League and World League of American Football.