By: David Lamm
Kerwin Bell is my favorite Gator football player of all-time.
That made the highlight of last weekend for me being when his Valdosta State Blazers won the NCAA Division II championship, finishing the 14-0 season in normal fashion, beating Ferris State 49-47 in overtime.
Just as he was as quarterback at Florida, in the CFL, and as a coach everywhere he’s been, Bell’s teams put up points, lots of them. VSU averaged a nation-leading 55 points a game this season.
From Florida, where he went from walk-on to a 4-year starter and SEC Player of the Year, and throughout his long professional playing career and as a college coach, he’s remained a good old boy, an aw-shucks guy kind of guy.
I remained in touch with Kerwin and his lovely bide, Cossette, throughout his professional years, mostly in Canada where he passed for early 20,000 yards. He was on NFL rosters as a 3rd QB in Miami, Atlanta, Tampa Bay and Indianapolis, but only saw the field in one game in ’96 for the Colts.
One of my favorite stories is when a friend and I were in Atlanta for an SEC Championship Game. Two nights before we were in a bar watching, but not paying much attention to a Colts-Eagles game. Then we hear Kerwin Bell’s name mentioned and, sure enough, there he was on the field.
His only drive as an NFL player Kerwin goes 5-for-5 passing for 75 yards and a touchdown. His 158.3 QB is the highest in NFL history.
My friend and I were screaming and acting like nuts, cheering on Bell. The other patrons looked at us as if we were crazy. Oh, well.
I loved it when he coached JU for nine years and was saddened when he left. He wanted scholarships, JU does not.
He quickly landed at VSU and needed only three years to make the Blazers national champs. No surprise.
My biggest regret is neither Will Muschamp or Jim McElwain would hire him as UF’s offensive coordinator. I tried to help him get the job, but to no avail.
Oh, what could have been.