COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Maryland head football coach DJ Durkin has named Walt Bell, one of the most dynamic young offensive minds in college football, as his Offensive Coordinator, it was announced on Sunday.
Bell joins the Maryland staff after serving as offensive coordinator, assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach at Arkansas State the last two seasons. The Red Wolves currently rank 14th nationally in scoring offense, averaging 40.0 points per game.
In his 26 games overseeing the Arkansas State offense, the Red Wolves have posted over 300 yards 24 times, over 400 yards 18 times and over 500 yards 11 times.
“Walt is one of the brightest offensive minds in college football and I’m excited to have him on my staff,” said Durkin. “He has a track record of being part of some of the most potent offenses in college football and he’s going to bring that exciting brand of football to Maryland.”
Bell helped Arkansas State placed eight offensive players on the 2015 All-Sun Belt Conference Team. Junior offensive linemen Jemar Clark and Colton Jackson, and senior wide receiver J.D. McKissic were first team all-conference selections.
In Bell’s first year at Arkansas State, the Red Wolves broke five school records on the offensive side of the ball. The high-tempo offense posted 6,194 yards of total offense, averaged 476.5 yards per game, ran 1,024 plays, scored 477 points and totaled 65 touchdowns. Bell’s offensive unit ranked among the top 45 teams in the nation in seven statistical categories, including scoring offense (No. 18), total offense (No. 20), rushing offense (No. 25), first downs (No. 30), completion percentage (No. 36), team passing efficiency (No. 38) and passing offense (No. 39).
Bell, who has been a part of 10 bowl games as either a coach or player, came to Arkansas State after spending the previous two seasons as North Carolina’s tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator. Bell was part of an offensive staff that helped North Carolina break over 35 school records.
Bell helped North Carolina average 432.4 total yards per game during the 2013 season. Coaching the tight ends position, he was part of a passing game that ranked 28th in the nation with an average of 277.4 yards per game. Bell also helped lead UNC to the 2012 Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal Division title, the same year the Tar Heels ranked 14th nationally with 485.6 yards per game.
Under Bell’s tutelage, tight end Eric Ebron was a two-time All-ACC pick and named First Team All-America in 2013. Ebron finished the 2013 season with 973 receiving yards, the most by any tight end in ACC history. Bell’s initial season at UNC saw Ebron triple his output over the previous year, hauling in 40 receptions for 625 yards.
Bell also helped the Tar Heels build a pair of strong recruiting classes. The 2012 class ranked among the top five in the ACC despite a lack of available scholarships, and the 2013 class was among the top four in the conference.
Bell went to North Carolina after coaching wide receivers at Southern Miss. He was part of a Southern Miss offensive staff that helped the Golden Eagles establish school records for total offense with 6,459 yards in 2011. USM ranked 17th in the nation in total offense and 14th in scoring offense as the Golden Eagles had their best season in school history.
Southern Miss won the Conference USA championship over previously unbeaten Houston and then won its school-record 12th game of the year by beating Nevada in the Hawaii Bowl. Bell’s wide receivers were a big reason for USM’s success. The top four receivers on the team all had more than 30 receptions, led by Kelvin Bolden who posted a team-high 58 catches for 671 yards and seven touchdowns. Ryan Ballentine led the team in yards (742) and touchdowns (8) on 49 catches.
Before becoming a full-time assistant at USM, Bell spent one season as the team’s offensive graduate assistant in 2010 when the team played Louisville in the Beef ‘O’ Brady Bowl. With his input, the Golden Eagles set new offensive records for production that year, including a then-school record 5,894 yards and 453.38 yards per game.
Prior to Southern Miss, Bell spent a season as a quality control coach at Oklahoma State. His lone season at OSU saw the Cowboys post a 9-4 record and play in the Cotton Bowl. Before Oklahoma State, Bell worked two years as a graduate assistant at Memphis following his playing days at Middle Tennessee. The Tigers played in back-to-back bowl games during Bell’s tenure at the school, including the 2008 St. Petersburg Bowl and the 2007 New Orleans Bowl.
Bell, a Dickson, Tennessee native, earned both his bachelor’s degree (criminal justice administration, 2005) and master’s degree (sports management, 2006) from Middle Tennessee, where he was a four-year letterman at wide receiver for the Blue Raiders. Bell also worked at Louisiana-Lafayette for one spring following his final season at MTSU.