Just hours after reports that Florida Gators defensive backs coach Torrian Gray would leave the Gators for the NFL, Florida announced that Corey Bell and Brad Davis will join Jim McElwain’s staff as assistant coaches today.
McElwain released a statement about the hiring of Bell and Davis:
"We are excited to have Corey and Brad join our staff. Corey has played in the SEC and has deep roots in the state of Florida. Brad also has strong relationship in our recruiting areas and has won championships as a player. Both are good teachers who will help our players be successful on the field and beyond their playing days."
Bell is a Miami native who comes to the Gators from the University of South Florida, where he was named as the defensive backs coach and recruiting coordinator on Charlie Strong’s new staff less than a month ago. Bell has ties to the South Florida area, Florida defensive coordinator Randy Shannon, and Florida defensive line coach Chris Rumph. He served as director of football operations at Miami from 2007 to 2010 when Shannon was the Hurricanes’ head coach, and played cornerback at South Carolina alongside Rumph.
Prior to his brief stint at USF, Bell coached defensive backs at Florida Atlantic University for the last two years. Bell also previously served as head coach at American Senior High School from 2011 to 2013 and at Miami Edison Senior High from 1997 to 2007. He led his American Senior teams to three consecutive district championships.
Bell expressed excitement about joining Florida’s staff:
"I'm very excited about the opportunity to join the Gator football family and being part of one of the most powerful brands in all of college athletics. I have a lot of respect for Coach Mac and I'm looking forward to working with a great group of players and staff."
Davis comes to Florida from North Texas, where he served as the offensive line coach last season. In 2015, he held the same position at East Carolina. This means that Davis actually appeared on the sideline at The Swamp for a game in each of the last two years.
Prior to his time with the Pirates, Davis was the co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at James Madison University for the 2014 season. That year the Dukes went 9-4, made the FCS playoffs, and finished tenth nationally in total offense.
Davis was at Portland State for five years prior to joining the JMU staff as run-game coordinator and offensive line coach. During that time, the Vikings had ten players earn All-Big Sky Conference honors while ranking among the nation's leaders in fewest sacks allowed. Davis also served as an offensive line assistant at North Carolina in 2008 and spent two years as a graduate assistant at Texas A&M.
Davis is a Baton Rouge native who graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2003, where he played offensive line and was a part of the Sooners’ 2000 nation championship team.
Davis conveyed an eagerness to meet Florida’s players and get to work for the Gators:
"I can't wait to get to Florida and get right to work. I can't wait to meet the players, spend time with them and help them achieve their goals. I'm also looking forward to bringing kids in who have values that fit the goals this championship-level program."
As with its announcement of the hiring of former West Virginia running backs coach Ja’Juan Seider, Florida does not specify the title or position that either Bell or Davis will be responsible for in its release, referring to them both as “assistant coach.” It seems obvious that Bell will coach defensive backs, especially with the reports of Gray departing for the NFL, and that Davis will coach the offensive line in some capacity, but how Florida divides those duties remains to be seen.
With the additions of Bell and Davis, Florida now has the NCAA-permitted maximum nine assistant coaches set to form McElwain’s 2017 staff. But legislation enabling FBS schools to hire a 10th full-time assistant coach has been percolating in recent weeks, and is regarded as likely to pass and come into effect for the 2017 season — meaning that Florida, and every other FBS football program, may still be hiring another coach before the fall.