A new era of Blazer football began in 2016 with Kerwin Bell at the helm, as Bell was announced as Valdosta State's next head football coach by Valdosta State Athletic Director Herb Reinhard in January.
Bell, a Mayo, Fla. native and graduate of Lafayette County High School, joins the program with extensive coaching experience after having coached at Jacksonville University for nine years, while leading the NCAA Football Championship Series program to a 66-35 record during his time there. Under his direction, the Dolphins won two Pioneer Football League championships, set a PFL record with 16 consecutive wins, and led the team to the best record in school history during the Dolphins' 10-1 run in 2010.
His responsibilities at JU included roles as the team's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, which produced a high-powered offense that led to big numbers in each of his nine seasons. During the aforementioned 2010 PFL championship season, Jacksonville led the nation in total offense with an average of 486 yards per game and also in scoring with an average of 42.2 points per game.
Bell's coaching experience dates back to 1990, when he began his coaching career as a graduate assistant coach under Steve Spurrier at the University of Florida, where he also played from 1983-87 while earning a Psychology degree and serving as the team's quarterback. In his four years as a Gator, Bell constructed a career that consisted of an SEC Freshman of the Year honor in 1984 after leading the Gators to a 9-1-1 record. He accumulated 7,586 career passing yards and 56 touchdowns in his time at Florida, which ultimately landed him in the UF Athletic Hall of Fame in 1997.
After completing a professional playing career in the 1990's that included time in the National Football League, the Canadian Football League, and the World League of American Football, Bell returned to a coaching career as an offensive coordinator for the Toronto Argonauts, where he served for two seasons before coaching at Trinity Catholic High School in Ocala, Fla. until his time began at JU, where he posted 9-2 records in both 2014 and 2015.
"I am very pleased and excited to have Kerwin join Valdosta State University and our Blazer football program," stated Reinhard. "He has enjoyed success as a head coach and he has considerable ties in Georgia and Florida. His teams are exciting to watch, and I am confident that he will build on our wonderful foundation of football success."