TUESDAY, JANUARY 02, 2007
Kerwin Bell named head football coach at JU
Press Conference Photo Gallery
Jan. 2, 2007
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A star quarterback at the University of Florida and a highly successful high school coach, Kerwin Bell brings a wealth of experience and knowledge as he becomes the second head football coach in Jacksonville University history on Tuesday.
Success has followed Bell throughout his career - coming from a walk-on quarterback at Florida, to the professional ranks in the NFL and CFL before his highly touted run as head coach at Trinity Catholic High School in Ocala, Fla.
"I have really enjoyed getting to know Kerwin, both as a person and as a coach, during this search process and feel invigorated about the future of the JU football program under his leadership," said JU Director of Athletics Alan Verlander, who signed Bell to a four-year contract. "Kerwin is a proven winner, a leader and he has a vision for JU football that will allow our program to attain excellence. We believe the community of this great city will come out and support our efforts in building a top-rate football program."
Bell comes to JU after spending the past five years as head coach at Trinity Catholic High School, building the program from scratch to a state power - winning the 2005 state championship and finishing as the state runner-up this season.
"We are excited to have Kerwin join the JU family as our head football coach," said JU President Kerry D. Romesburg. "Kerwin is an experienced football professional with a great outlook and a lot of passion for coaching, which will rub off on everyone in our program. His experiences, in and around the game, have helped create the leader who can take our program to the top of our conference."
In leaving a program that he built from the ground up, he takes over a JU program in its infancy as the Dolphins will celebrate their 10th anniversary in 2007.
"After talking to Alan the last couple of weeks, I felt his energy and excitement about taking JU football to another level and that we can do something special," Bell said. "This program has a lot of potential and once people see the product we put out on the field, they will want to jump on board as we build something special for the entire city of Jacksonville to enjoy. With President Romesburg's and Alan's vision of where this program can go, I think we have a very bright future ahead of us."
Bell's was a four-year starter at Florida who completed his career in 1987 as the SEC's all-time leader in passing yardage (7,581) and TD passes (56). Bell joined the Gator program as a walk-on in 1983 and as a non-scholarship redshirt freshman in 1984 was named SEC "Player of the Year." By the time he left in 1987, he ranked as the greatest statistical passer in SEC history.
After finishing his collegiate career, Bell was drafted in the seventh round by the Miami Dolphins. He would go on to play in the NFL as a backup for several years with Tampa Bay and Indianapolis. Bell left his mark in the NFL, playing in just one game, but going 5-for-5 for 72 yards.
He then received an opportunity to play in the Canadian Football League, where he starred for the Toronto Argonauts. In his first season, Bell threw for 5,000 yards, 27 touchdowns (a CFL record) and had the highest completion percentage, near 67 percent.
Due to injuries keeping him off the field, Bell became more involved with the coaching staff. While playing with the Sacramento Gold Miners in the CFL, Bell got his first taste of the coaching bug, by helping draw up plays and give input during games.
In his next to last season in Toronto under head coach and CFL-legend Mike "Pinball" Clemons, Bell helped redraw the offense in midseason after a 1-7-1 start to the year. With the new offense installed by Bell, the Argonauts went 6-3 to finish the season and missed the playoffs by just one game.
After an ankle injury short-circuited his final season, Bell wanted to get into coaching full time. His search led him to Trinity Catholic High School, where the football program was just being created.
During his five years as head coach at Trinity Catholic, Bell racked up a 40-13 record, including a 27-game winning streak that was snapped in the state championship game this season.
He led Trinity to the Class 2B state championship in 2005 and was runner-up in 2006.
"One of the things I learned was how to create an atmosphere," Bell said. "Sometimes when you go places that haven't done as well, you have to create it - build an expectation of success. I don't want to be associated with a program that settles for mediocrity. I want to build an atmosphere of expectation and bring that to the program at JU.
"I think the product on the field will speak for itself. Sooner or later, you have to show a good product. Once we put a great product on the field, people in Jacksonville will catch on to the vision and get behind it."