Western Carolina head football coach Kerwin Bell looked within his current staff for his next offensive coordinator, announcing the promotion of the program’s recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach Rylan Wells to Offensive Coordinator. A former college quarterback under Bell, Wells has experience coaching across the field having worked with nearly every position group during his career.
Wells, who takes over for Kade Bell who was hired as the offensive coordinator position at the University of Pittsburgh in December, is the second new coordinator on the Catamount coaching staff this winter. He joins Jerry Odom who was hired as the squad’s defensive coordinator back in mid-December 2023.
Over the past three seasons, Wells has been a part of the Catamount offensive coaching staff that has broken the school record for total offense twice with 5,339 yards in 2022 eclipsed by a record 5,545 yards last fall. WCU has scored an average of 33.9 points per game on an average of 486.8 yards of total offense since 2021. Wells has been an integral part of the staff as one of the coaches in the press box each week. His younger brother, Rogan, finished his collegiate career at WCU in 2021 with the sixth-most passing yards in a single season at 2,595 yards, capping a career that included stops at Valdosta State and Tusculum.
Wells joined the WCU football coaching staff in the spring of 2021 under Kerwin Bell after spending a year at Tusculum University with Kade where he mentored the Pioneers’ running backs. He was a part of claiming the 2021 spring South Atlantic Conference championship.
In the five-game 2021 spring schedule, Tusculum averaged 37.6 points per game and over 530 yards of offense per game including 139.2 yards per game on the ground. Under Wells’ tutelage, the junior running back tandem of TJ Jones and Maurice Gomillion accounted for 501 rushing yards and nine of the team’s 12 scores on the ground. The duo also recorded 26 receptions for 368 yards in five games, an average of 73.6 receiving yards per game, and amassed 173.8 yards of total offense per game.
Wells earned his coaching start on staff at his alma mater Jacksonville University for two seasons (2018-2019) where he was an offensive graduate assistant. With the Dolphins, he coached the offensive tackles in 2018 and the wide receivers in 2019. The 2018 Jacksonville offense ranked third in the nation in rushing, averaging 345.3 yards per game while boasting the nation’s fifth-ranked individual rusher in Calvin Turner, who ran for 1,431 yards in 10 games and posted the nation’s third-best average per game (143.1). Wells additionally served as the film coordinator for JU during the 2019 campaign. Originally from Tega Cay, S.C., Wells was a member of the Jacksonville football team from 2013-2017 where he started at quarterback for 34 games.
He finished his collegiate career ranked among the top five in Jacksonville history in rushing touchdowns (20), pass completions (257), passing attempts (444), completion percentage, and total offense (5,519 yds). A 2017 team captain at Jacksonville, Wells started in all 11 games under center, passing for 1,480 yards and 11 touchdowns while also rushing for 472 yards and eight scores. A three-time Pioneer Football League Offensive Player of the Week honoree, he was recognized as an Honorable Mention for the STATS FCS Offensive Player of the Week following a performance against Davidson College that included five combined touchdowns and a Dolphins win.
In 2016, he became the first Jacksonville player to lead the Dolphins in both rushing and passing yards in the same season, accumulating 1,744 passing yards and 614 yards on the ground in 10 games. He scored 11 touchdowns and fell one score shy of the program single-game record against Marist, rushing for four scores in one game. Wells earned a bachelor's degree in business management from Jacksonville in 2018 and completed his master’s degree in sport management in 2020.
Western Carolina looks to National Signing Day on Wed., Feb. 7, 2024, after adding seven true freshmen and one mid-season transfer during the early period of Dec. 20-22. The squad is slated to open its annual 15-practice spring drills following the University’s Spring Break on Tues., March 12, with the 2024 Spring Game scheduled for Saturday, April 13 on Bob Waters Field at E.J. Whitmire Stadium.