Walt Bell, whose hiring as DJ Durkin’s first offensive coordinator at Maryland was met with much excitement about his fast-paced system as well as some skepticism about his relative youth, has been hired for the same position at Florida State, a source familiar with the situation confirmed Wednesday.
After coming to Maryland from Arkansas State at age 31, Bell was limited in his two years in College Park by the injuries to the team’s quarterbacks — in particular this past season when the Terps lost sophomore Tyrrell Pigrome and freshman Kasim Hill to torn ACLs in the first three games.
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Those limitations hurt Maryland’s offensive production as a team — the Terps finished 95th in total offense in 2016 and 119th last season — Bell helped produce some of the Big Ten’s top individual performances.
In 2016, then-sophomore tailback Ty Johnson broke a 55-year-old school record for yards per carry when he rushed for 1,004 yards on 110 carries (9.1 yards per attempt). Those figures would have led the nation had Johnson had enough carries to qualify.
Last season, junior wide receiver DJ Moore broke a 23-year-old school record for receptions and led the Big Ten with 80 catches and 1,033 receiving yards and added eight touchdown catches despite playing with five different quarterbacks. He was named first-team All-Big Ten and the league’s top receiver.
While Bell will likely get a significant raise — he was making $507,000 annually at Maryland — and coach in a program that has long been one of the nation’s perennial powers, new Seminoles coach Willie Taggart will likely be calling the plays.
Bell becomes the third Maryland assistant to leave after the 2017 season, which started with the Terps opening with a road upset at Texas en route to a 3-1 record but ended with seven losses in the team’s last eight games.
Offensive line coach Tyler Bowen, a former Maryland tight end under Ralph Friedgen who came back to College Park last year, left to join the staff at Penn State. Running backs coach Anthony Tucker, who was on the staff for two years, went to Central Florida.
It is not known whether Durkin will promote one of his assistants or bring in someone from the outside. Durkin recently hired former Virginia Tech offensive coordinator and James Madison assistant Bryan Stinespring to coach the offensive line.