University of Iowa Athletics
Defensive Line

Kelvin Bell

Kelvin Bell - Football - University of Iowa Athletics


Kelvin Bell, a former member of the University of Iowa football team, is in his sixth season as Iowa’s defensive line coach. Bell was named recruiting coordinator and defensive assistant coach in February, 2016. Bell also held the position of director of on-campus recruiting for two years (2014-15). He served as a graduate assistant coach for two years (2012-13), assisting with special teams.

Throughout his coaching stint at Iowa, Bell has been involved in all aspects of prospect identification, working with the coaching staff in off-campus recruiting efforts, and coordinated all aspects of on-campus recruiting activities.

In 2023, the Hawkeyes won 10 games, including their final four, to capture the Big Ten West Division for the second time in three years. Iowa advanced to another January bowl game (Citrus Bowl) and finished the season ranked No. 24. The Hawkeyes have been ranked in the final AP Top 25 five of the last six seasons. Four linemen earned all-conference recognition following the season: Joe Evans (third team), Yayha Black (honorable mention), Deontae Craig (honoarable mention) and Logan Lee (honorable mention). Black and Craig will return in 2024.

The Hawkeyes have earned 25 conference victories between 2020-23, matching its highest four-year conference win total in program history (1982-85 and 2002-05).

Iowa’s defense led the way in 2022, including posting just the second shutout in Iowa’s 35 bowl games. The Hawkeyes won eight games, including five of their final six games. The defense led the nation in with seven defensive touchdowns, including two interception return scores in the bowl win. Iowa’s defense was in the top 12 in the nation in scoring defense (second), total defense (second), pass efficiency defense (fourth), passing yards per game (sixth), first down defense (10th), third down defense (11th) and rushing defense (12th).

Four linemen in 2022 earned All-Big Ten recognition. Lukas Van Ness and Evans garnered second team laurels, while Noah Shannon and Lee were honorable mention. Van Ness declared for the 2023 NFL Draft and was selected in the first round by the Green Bay Packers (13th overall selection).

The Hawkeyes won 10 games in 2021, winning the Big Ten West Division title and advancing to the conference championship game. Iowa concluded the season with an appearance in the Citrus Bowl and was ranked 23rd in the final national rankings.

Iowa’s defense set a school record and led the nation with 25 interceptions in 2021. The defense ranked among national leaders in takeaways (30, third), defensive touchdowns scored (four, seventh), pass efficiency defense (110.5, sixth), turnover margin (0.8, 11th), rushing defense (114.4, 13th), scoring defense (19.2, 13th) and total defense (328.8, 18th).

Zach VanValkenburg led the play of Iowa’s defensive front, earning second-team all-league honors, while Shannon earned honorable mention recognition. Iowa’s defensive line in 2021 featured three players in their first year as starters.

VanValkenburg signed a free agent contract with the Las Vegas Raiders immediately following the 2022 NFL Draft. In three consecutive years (2019-21), the Hawkeyes had a defensive lineman selected in the first four rounds of the NFL Draft, while Van Ness added to that total in 2023.

Following back-to-back narrow losses to open the 2020 season, Iowa won its final six games, all in Big Ten play. The Hawkeyes allowed just seven points in three of the six wins. The winning streak included road wins at Minnesota, Penn State and Illinois, and trophy game victories over Minnesota, Nebraska, and Wisconsin. The Hawkeyes were ranked 15th in the nation in the final CFP rankings and Coaches Poll, and 16th by the AP. The Hawkeyes were selected to compete in the 2020 Music City Bowl, but that event was canceled.

Iowa’s defense in 2020 led the nation in allowing opponents 4.3 yards per play. The Hawkeyes ranked among the national leaders in several additional categories, including scoring (16.0, 7th), pass efficiency defense (110.1, 9th), rushing defense (107.6, 11th), total defense (313.8, 12th), red zone defense (.727, 12th) and interceptions (11, 19th).

Daviyon Nixon earned unanimous consensus All-America honors. He was named the Big Ten’s defensive lineman and defensive player of the year while earned first-team All-Big Ten honors. He was a finalist for both the Outland Trophy and Nagurski Award. Chauncey Golston also earned first-team all-league honors, while VanValkenburg earned second-team laurels. Golston was selected by Dallas in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft, while Nixon was selected in the fifth round by Carolina. Jack Heflin signed a free agent contract (Green Bay) immediately following the draft.

The Hawkeyes concluded the 2019 campaign with a 10-3 record following a 49-24 rout over No. 22 USC in the Holiday Bowl. The three losses were all to ranked opponents by a combined 14 points. Iowa was 4-1 in trophy games for the third straight season.

The 2019 Hawkeye defense ranked among the top 17 in the nation in scoring defense (5th, 14.0), first downs allowed (9th, 16.6), total defense (12th, 308.2), rushing defense (14th, 112.5), turnover margin (14th, 0.7) and pass efficiency defense (17th, 116.0). Iowa tied for second in the nation in interceptions (20) in 2018 after leading the nation in 2017 with 21. Iowa’s 64 thefts over the past four seasons tie for the most in the nation.

A.J. Epenesa earned first and second-team All-America accolades while leading Iowa in sacks for the second straight season in 2019. Epenesa earned first-team All-Big Ten honors and was the defensive MVP in Iowa’s Holiday Bowl win over USC. Epenesa, who declared for the 2020 NFL Draft, had 2.5 sacks vs. USC as Iowa allowed the Trojans just 22 net rushing yards. Golston and Cedrick Lattimore earned honorable mention all-conference recognition.

Epenesa was selected by Buffalo in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft. In addition, Lattimore signed a free agent contract with Seattle immediately following the draft.

Iowa won 47 games from 2015-19, the highest total in school history over any five-year period, and a total that ranked ninth nationally. Iowa won its final four games in 2019 and ranked 15th in the final Associated Press and Coaches polls.

Iowa completed the 2018 season with a 9-4 mark and a final ranking of 25th in the Associated Press. The Hawkeyes earned a 27-22 Outback Bowl win over No. 18 Mississippi State to close the season with three straight wins. The four losses came by a total of 23 points and all were decided in the final minutes of play. Iowa tied for second in the Big Ten West Division.

Iowa, in 2018, ranked seventh nationally in total defense (293.6), eighth in turnovers gained (27), 11th in scoring defense (17.8) and 12th in rushing defense (109.5). Iowa’s defense was second in the Big Ten in red zone defense and third in total sacks (35).

In 2018, Epenesa earned first-team all-Big Ten honors and Anthony Nelson was named to the second team. Parker Hesse and Matt Nelson earned honorable mention recognition. Nelson declared for the NFL Draft following his junior season and was selected by Tampa Bay in the fourth round. Matt Nelson, Hesse and Sam Brincks were all invited to NFL workouts immediately following the draft.

The 2017 Iowa defense ranked 17th in the nation in scoring defense (19.9). Anthony Nelson earned second-team all-conference and first-team Academic All-America honors, while Nathan Bazata was honorable mention All-Big Ten.

The 2016 Hawkeyes ranked 13th in the nation in scoring defense and red zone defense, 19th in pass efficiency defense and 23rd in total defense. Jaleel Johnson earned first-team All-Big Ten laurels, while Bazata and Hesse earned honorable mention recognition.

Johnson and Faith Ekakitie moved to the professional football ranks. Johnson was a fourth-round selection of the Minnesota Vikings in the 2017 NFL Draft, while Ekakitie was the first player selected in the 2017 CFL Draft (Winnipeg).

Iowa’s most recent bowl game invitations include the 2024 Citrus Bowl, 2022 Music City Bowl, 2022 Citrus Bowl, 2020 Music City Bowl, 2019 Holiday Bowl, 2019 Outback Bowl, 2017 Outback Bowl, 2017 Pinstripe Bowl, 2016 Rose Bowl Game, 2015 TaxSlayer Bowl and 2014 Outback Bowl.

Bell interned with four NFL organizations (Minnesota Vikings, 2013; New York Giants, 2014; Miami Dolphins and Cincinnati Bengals, 2015) as part of the Bill Walsh Minority Coaching Fellowship.

Bell joined the Iowa staff after serving as an assistant coach at Trinity International University, where he served as the offensive line coach and run game coordinator in 2011. Two of his offensive linemen earned all-conference honors in 2011.

Bell served two seasons (2008-09) as offensive line coach at Wayne State College in Wayne, Nebraska. He helped lead the Wildcats to their first-ever appearance in the NCAA Division II playoffs in 2008 while posting a two-year record of 17-6. Bell coached five offensive linemen who went on to earn all-conference, all-region and All-America honors.

Before coaching at WSC, Bell coached the offensive line at Cornell College for two seasons (2006-2007). He gained his first coaching experience at Regina High School in Iowa City (2004-06), where he served as junior high coach, varsity weight room supervisor, and assistant varsity coach. Regina earned its first-ever state football championship in 2005 after reaching the semifinals in 2004.

Bell first joined the Iowa program as a defensive lineman in 2000. He redshirted in his first year at Iowa and later had his career cut short due to injury. As a prep, he earned first team all-conference honors for three straight seasons as an offensive and defensive lineman. He earned all-district, all-region and all-county recognition as a senior.

Bell earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics, with a computer science concentration, from the University of Iowa in 2005. He earned his master’s degree in sports management in 2014.

Bell is a native of Olive Branch, Mississippi. His wife’s name is Natalee.

Bell’s Coaching Career
School – Position, Years
Iowa – Defensive Line, 2019-present
Iowa – Defensive Assistant Coach/Recruiting Coordinator, 2016-18
Iowa – On-Campus Recruiting Director, 2014-15
Trinity International – Offensive Line/Running Game Coordinator, 2011
Wayne State – Offensive Line, 2008-09
Cornell College – Offensive Line, 2006-07
Regina High School (Iowa City) – Assistant Coach, 2004-06