Arkansas State's Walt Bell joins Maryland staff as offensive coordinator

Arkansas State offensive coordinator Walt Bell will fill the same position on Maryland's staff, the university announced Sunday.

Bell, 31, is the first major hire on the offensive side of the ball under coach DJ Durkin, who spent the past two-plus weeks on a "deliberate" search to fill his offensive coordinator position.


"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 has spent the past two years at Arkansas State, where he organized a high-powered spread attack. Entering Arkansas State's 47-28 loss to Louisiana Tech in the R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl on Saturday night, Bell's offense averaged 41 points per game and 448 yards per game, marks that ranked 10th and 36th nationally, respectively.

Mike Locksley, who has served as Maryland's offensive coordinator since 2012 and was interim coach for the final six games this fall, was offered an unspecified position coaching position on the offensive staff, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. It's unknown whether he will accept the offer. Locksley is regarded as a key player in the recruitment of a number of top local prospects.

Bell had served as offensive coordinator, assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach at Arkansas State the past two seasons. In his 26 games with the offense, the Red Wolves gained 300 yards on 24 occasions, 400 yards in 18 games and 500 yards 11 times. Maryland averaged 375 yards per game on offense this fall.

At Arkansas State, Bell helped develop quarterback Fredi Knighten, who was a first-team All-Sun Belt selection in 2014. Last season, Knighten completed 62.3 percent of his passes for 3,277 yards with 24 touchdowns and seven interceptions. This season, Knighten was banged up, so Bell turned to the ground, where the Red Wolves had three running backs rush for more than 600 yards and average more than six yards per carry.

Arkansas State had eight offensive players on the 2015 All-Sun Belt team, including three on the first team.

Bell spent two seasons at North Carolina as tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator before following Arkansas State coach Blake Anderson to Jonesboro, Ark. In Tar Heels coach Larry Fedora's high-powered offense, Bell coached two-time All-ACC and 2013 All-American tight end Eric Ebron, who was the 10th pick in the 2014 NFL draft. In 2013, Ebron had 62 catches for 973 yards and three touchdowns.

Bell helped put together a pair of recruiting classes that ranked in the top 45 nationally, according to 247sports.com, in 2012 and 2013. The Class of 2013 was ranked 28th nationally, and numerous players from those classes were important parts of North Carolina's run to the ACC championship game this fall.

Bell also coached at Southern Mississippi, where he was on the staff of the Fedora-coached team that went 12-2 in 2011. Bell coached wide receivers, and four Golden Eagles receivers had at least 30 catches. Bell was an offensive graduate assistant at Southern Miss in 2010.

Additionally, Bell spent a season as a quality control coach at Oklahoma State and worked two years as a graduate assistant at Memphis. Bell played wide receiver at Middle Tennessee State, where he appeared in 37 games and made one start in four seasons. He played in the Blue Raiders' 24-10 loss at Maryland on Sept. 9, 2006.



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