June 15, 1965 |
Live Oak, Florida
|Height:||6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)|
|Weight:||207 lb (94 kg)|
|High school:||Mayo (FL) Lafayette County|
|NFL Draft:||1988 / Round: 7 / Pick: 180|
|* Offseason and/or practice squad member only|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career CFL statistics|
Kerwin Douglas Bell (born June 15, 1965) is an American college and professional football coach and former player who was a quarterback 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. Bell was an All-Southeastern Conference college football player at the University of Florida from 1984 to 1986. After graduating, he played professionally for four NFL teams, one WLAF team and four CFL teams. Though Bell 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.
Bell began his coaching career in 2001, when he was served as the offensive coordinator of CFL's Toronto Argonauts during his final year as an active player. After retiring as a player, Bell returned to Florida and was the head football coach at Trinity High School in Ocala from 2001 to 2006, then at Jacksonville University from 2007 to 2015. Since 2016, he has been the head football coach for the Valdosta State University Blazers.
After graduating from high school, Bell attended the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, where he played quarterback for the Florida Gators football team under coach Galen Hall from 1983 to 1987. Bell did not initially receive an athletic scholarship, but was a walk-on player who was initially the eighth quarterback on the Gators' depth chart. He saw no playing time as a freshman in 1983, and was redshirted by the coaching staff.
Bell received his chance to become the Gators' starting quarterback when all of the scholarship quarterbacks ahead of him transferred or were injured prior to the start of the 1984 season, and finally became the primary signal caller when starter Dale Dorminey suffered a serious knee injury in practice just four days before the season opener against the defending national champion Miami Hurricanes. Behind the Gators' 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 made the most of his opportunity and led the Gators to a 9–1–1 seasons in 1984, 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 later. In 1985, now with a full scholarship, Bell led the Gators to a second consecutive 9–1–1 record. The Gators also finished with best-in-the-conference records of 5–0–1 and 5–1 in 1984 and 1985 and held their first ever No. 1 ranking in the AP poll during the season. Due to mainly to the effects of ongoing NCAA probations, 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, but did not play for the Dolphins. He spent part of 1989 as the Buccaneers' third-team quarterback. He also played for the Orlando Thunder of the World League of American Football, where he threw for 2,214 yards in 1991, but was a backup in 1992 when the Thunder went to the World Bowl.
He 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.
After spending the 1996 season with the Indianapolis Colts as a backup, Bell returned in 1998 with the Toronto Argonauts, and had his best professional year, throwing for 4,991 yards and completing 67.3 percent of his passes. He threw for 501 yards against Edmonton on September 26, 1998. Bell played in 1999 and 2000 with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, but would return to the Argonauts for part of the 2000 and the 2001 seasons. Bell passed for 8,811 career yards in forty-six regular season games in Toronto.
During his nine-season CFL career, Bell played in 126 regular season games, completed 1,560 passes in 2,558 attempts, and threw 101 touchdowns.
Bell's coaching career started in 1990, a year in which he was sidelined from his playing career while recovering from a knee injury. Bell spent the 1990 football season as a graduate assistant coach under Steve Spurrier in Spurrier's first season as head coach at the University of Florida, after which Bell resumed his playing career, signing with the Orlando Thunder of the WLAF. Bell next held a coaching position in 2001, when he served as the 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 and became the head football coach at Trinity Catholic High School in Ocala, Florida. Under Bell, Trinity Catholic won the 2005 Florida 2B state high school football championship and was state runner-up in 2006.
In 2007, Bell became the head coach of the Jacksonville University football program. In the program's second season, the JU Dolphins went 9-4 and won the Pioneer Football League (PFL) championship. Bell was recognized as the PFL Coach of the Year and was a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Award. Bell's squad again won the PFL championship in 2010 with a 10-1 record.
Bell has been rumored to be a candidate for coaching positions at major college programs and interviewed to become the offensive coordinator at the University of Florida in 2011. He has been quoted as saying that he intends to build a "strong legacy" as Jacksonville University's head coach 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 due to "philosophical differences". While the school's administration wanted to keep the football program as-is, Bell had publicly mentioned his goal of eventually growing the non-scholarship Jacksonville program into a scholarship-based program which could better compete with other scholarship-supported programs in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS).
|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–present)|
|National championship Conference title Conference division title or championship game berth|
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