A few weeks ago if you were to ask Corey Bell if he would be walking in The Swamp as Florida's new defensive back coach, he would have called you crazy. In January Bell was gearing up to start his position at USF under new head coach Charlie Strong. However, things changed when Bell received a call from Jim McElwain.
“Maybe a week ago or so, I was at home and they gave me a call," said Bell. "It happened rather fast. It was a situation where I asked him to reach out to coach Strong because I was with coach Strong at the time. Once they had the conversation, then Mac and I had a second conversation. So it happened within 72 hours, actually."
Once the job was offered, Bell says he could not pass on the opportunity to return to the SEC.
“I played in the SEC, and now I have an opportunity to be back in the SEC," he said. "Long story short, when coach Strong was here during his first stint, he recruited me. You know, and I actually committed here. And that was a long time ago, of course, but I always wanted to be a Gator. Now I have the opportunity to be that, so I took advantage."
The Gators needed to replace Torrian Gray, after Gray left for a coaching position at the Washington Redskins.
"There's a bunch of first or second-rounders that have come out of here at that position, so he's got a heck of a tradition to uphold and yet has some great guys to work with," said McElwain. "I think his comfort level and [defensive coordinator] Coach [Randy] Shannon's comfort level with each other and what they're teaching that fits to our defense, I know I'm excited to see him work and I know our guys have been excited being around him."
"It’s a thing for the fans in terms of tradition and all that," said Bell of Florida's "DBU" status. "You know, with Teez and Quincy, those are guys that can’t obviously be replaced. But you have some young guys you’ve gotta develop in Chauncey and all those guys. So it’s about developing young guys and putting them in positions to be successful.”
Although Bell has only officially been given the title just a few days ago, he has already taken time to get acquainted with his new group.
“I’ve done some research. I’ve looked at film. I’ve met with the guys, of course," he said. "I had the chance to speak with them up close, one-on-one. So in that respect it’s been good. Now it’s just about developing some depth. You know, you have some guys on the roster that probably haven’t played much, but it’s my job to develop them and make sure they’re ready to go.
"For the most part, it’s just putting those guys out there and letting them play within the scheme of things," added Bell. "Then having the young guys come along. You know, in that respect, it’s a great situation that you have some guys with game experience but you also ave some guys that don’t have game experience that you’ve gotta bring along. So, you know, it’s just a catch-22 in terms of that situation. But it’ll work itself out as we move forward.”
With the spring evaluation period just around the corner, Bell will start hitting the recruiting trail to find his perfect corner.
"You like some guys with some length, guys that play with a bend. And of course, vertical speed. You want that as well. But also them being able to learn what you’re teaching is critical. So we’ve gotta get guys on the board. Like I said, they’re in for the process.”