Kelvin Bell, a former member of the University of Iowa football team, is in his fifth 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.
Iowa posted an 8-5 record in 2022, concluding the season with a 21-0 win over Kentucky in the Music City Bowl and wins in five of its final six games. Iowa’s streak of 10 straight bowl invitations is the longest in school history and the Hawkeyes have been in the Top 25 final rankings in four of the last five seasons. Iowa’s streak of 10 straight winning seasons ranks 10th best in the nation.
Iowa’s defense led the way in 2022, including posting just the second shutout in Iowa’s 35 bowl games. The defense led the nation in with seven defensive touchdowns. 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 of Iowa’s defensive linemen in 2022 earned All-Big Ten recognition. Joe Evans and Lukas Van Ness earned second team honors, while tackles Logan Lee and Noah Shannon were named honorable mention. Evans and Shannon will return for a fifth season in 2023, while Lee will be a senior. 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’s West Division title and advancing to the conference championship game. Iowa concluded the season with an appearance in the Vrbo Citrus Bowl and was ranked 23rd in the nation in the final national rankings.
Iowa closed the 2021 regular season with four straight victories to earn the West Division title for the second time since 2015. Iowa earned 24 conference wins between 2018-21, matching Iowa’s highest four-year conference win total since 2002-05.
Junior tackle 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. Senior end Chauncey Golston also earned first-team All-Big Ten honors, while VanValkenburg earned second-team honors. Golston was a third-round selection in the 2021 NFL Draft (Dallas) and Nixon was selected by Carolina in the fifth round. Tackle Jack Heflin signed a free agent contract with Green Bay 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.
The Hawkeyes concluded the 2019 campaign with a 10-3 record following a 49-24 win over No. 22 Southern California in the Holiday Bowl. The three losses were all to ranked opponents by a combined 14 points. The Hawkeyes were 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). The Hawkeyes ranked in the top five nationally in fewest penalties and fewest penalty yards. Iowa opponents have averaged less than 20 points per game in each of the last five seasons.
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).
The Hawkeyes posted a perfect 12-0 regular season record in 2015, winning the West Division of the Big Ten Conference. Iowa participated in the 2016 Rose Bowl Game and the 2015 Big Ten Championship and ended the season in the top 10 in the final national rankings.
Junior defensive end A.J. Epenesa earned first and second-team All-America honors 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 Southern California. Epenesa, who declared for the 2020 NFL Draft, had 2.5 sacks vs. Southern California as Iowa allowed the Trojans just 22 net rushing yards. Golston and senior tackle Cedrick Lattimore earned honorable mention All-Big Ten 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.
In 2018, Epenesa earned first-team all-Big Ten honors and defensive end Anthony Nelson was named to the second team. End Parker Hesse and tackle 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-Big Ten and first-team Academic All-America honors, while senior tackle 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. Tackle Jaleel Johnson earned first-team All-Big Ten honors, while Bazata and Hesse earned honorable mention recognition.
Johnson and Faith Ekakitie, also a senior tackle in 2016, 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).
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