JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Without him even knowing it, Jacksonville quarterback Kade Bell has caused many restless nights in the home of Pioneer Football League defensive coordinators. The redshirt senior did nothing short of terrorize the competition last season by setting a school-record 3,181 yards passing. This season, he and the other Dolphin quarterbacks are looking beyond the eye-popping statistics and have their eyes set on leading Jacksonville to its first undefeated season.
Bell has already etched himself into the Dolphin record books with a remarkable 2014 season. Named to the First Team All-PFL squad, he completed 227 of 376 passes for a school single-season record 3,181 yards and threw for 31 touchdowns. He started all 11 games, completed 60.4 percent of his passes and had an efficiency rating of 152.26, which was good for ninth in the FCS. The Fleming Island, Fla., native led the PFL in total offense, passing offense, and was the only quarterback in the league to throw for more than 400 yards in a game, a feat he accomplished three times. Each of the last two years, Bell has led Jacksonville to its top single-season total offense and passing yards. He enters his final year second on Jacksonville's career list for completions, attempts, yards, touchdowns, completion percentage, and total offense behind former standout Josh McGregor.
The starting quarterback wants to stretch the field even more this fall so he aimed to increase his arm strength in the offseason.
"I think more strength is really going to help me. I've been working this summer on throwing the wide-field and NFL throws. I think that's helped me and we hope to stretch the defense this year," said Kade Bell.
His father, Head Coach Kerwin Bell, appreciated that added muscle and noted that he improved as a pocket passer last season and is running "as well as he ever has here."
"What makes him special is his cerebral part of the game when he progresses through his reads and the ball comes out of his hand lightning-quick fast. He's been unbelievable under pressure situations from the defense this camp. I think he's thrown only three interceptions the whole fall. He's been able to make plays," said coach Bell.
The elder Bell has noticed the younger's chemistry with his teammates.
"Kade and Andy (Jones) are playing great and I think he's grown a lot with our younger receivers. They've worked extremely hard. I see him with the linemen a good bit and they go out to eat together," he said.
Jacksonville's head coach did lend a mix of fatherly and leadership advice to his son. "The one thing to make sure you watch is that as a senior you don't try to do too much and take the whole load on yourself and force too much. It's still a game of turnovers and limiting those helps your team win. Sometimes you don't win on every snap and it's okay to punt the football," said Bell.
Kade Bell is backed up by a considerable talent in redshirt-sophomore Rylan Wells. The redshirt-sophomore saw limited time last season, but has given his coach the valued feelings of excitement and confidence.
"Rylan's had a really good camp and has come a long way in a year. He knows our system a lot better this year. I feel very comfortable with him," said Kerwin Bell. "He's got premiere speed and is one of the fastest guys on the field every Saturday. He seems to glide through the defense. He also has an ability to stand in the pocket with great poise and his combination of the two makes him very unique. He's becoming a very complete quarterback."
If Kade Bell and company continue at the pace they've shown in the offseason and fall camp, then the record books will stand a good chance of being rewritten for the third-consecutive year.
Kerwin Bell might have put it best, "I think we're ready to have a big-time year."