Walt Wells joined the University of South Florida football coaching staff in December 2012 after spending 10 years at Western Kentucky working with the offensive line. Wells spent four of those years as WKU's running-game coordinator.
Four Hilltopper offensive linemen earned All-America honors under Wells' direction, and the Hilltoppers ranked in the top four in the Sun Belt Conference in rushing each of the last four seasons - leading the league with 181.6 rushing yards per game in 2011 and improving that number to 186.2 yards per game in 2012.
Four Hilltopper linemen earned all-Sun Belt honors over the last three seasons. Mychal Patterson was an honorable mention all-league pick in 2010, while Wes Jeffries and Adam Smith earned first and second-team accolades, respectively, in 2011. Smith went on to earn first-team honors in 2012.
As a result of Wells’ mentoring, Smith, a four-year starter, went on to sign a free agent contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after the 2012 season. Wells also produced Greg Ryan, who earned a free-agent contract with the Baltimore Ravens in 2009. Ryan started all 12 games on the WKU offensive line in 2008, seeing time at multiple positions in an effort to help younger players develop.
The 2007 WKU offense set a school record for first downs in a season (266) and completion percentage (62.8), posted the fifth-highest totals in school history in total yards (4,906), total touchdowns (51) and points (398) and ranked in the top 10 in several other categories. That included posting 49 points in the opening quarter of an 87-0 victory over West Virginia Tech, which tied an NCAA I-A (Football Bowl Subdivision) record for points in a period as well as setting new WKU standards for points and scoring margin in a game.
Not only did he have two players, Ryan and Chris Sullivan, earn All-America honors in 2006, but those two, Joe Dolchan and Zach Thuney combined to claim Offensive Lineman-of-the-Week accolades from Hansen's Football Gazette on seven occasions. His line helped the Topper offense collect more than 4,000 yards as WKU ranked in the top 25 nationally in a pair of statistical categories.
In 2005, Wells' unit helped pave the way as the Hilltoppers averaged 30.8 points and 405.7 yards of total offense per contest, both figures that ranked among the top 30 in the nation. That included a Gateway Football Conference-best 228.6 yards per game on the ground, which was 14th in the country.
Erik Losey earned first-team All-America honors from the American Football Coaches Association under Wells' direction in 2005, while Ryan was an honorable mention all-conference selection. Two of his linemen - Andrew Campbell and Chris McConnell - were named to the league's All-Newcomer Team.
The previous year his efforts helped Buster Ashley become the first two-time consensus All-American on the Hill, as he also earned the distinction of being one of the first linemen in Gateway Conference history to be selected first-team all-league on three occasions. Both Losey (second-team all-GFC, Gateway All-Newcomer Team) and Ryan Thomas (honorable mention all-conference) were both honored under his direction. Wells' line allowed just nine sacks on 222 pass attempts as the Toppers ranked 14th nationally with 226.17 yards per game on the ground while piling up just under 400 yards of total offense per outing.
In his first season on the Hill, Wells helped Ashley become the second consecutive WKU offensive lineman to earn consensus All-America honors, while Anthony Oakley and Daniel Withrow were voted second-team all-conference. His line helped pave the way for a unit that gained 5,129 total yards and scored 427 points, both figures that rank in the top five in the school record books. The Toppers allowed only 13 sacks in 13 games.
He arrived at WKU after working with the line and tight ends at Eastern Kentucky the previous six years, where he was a part of three teams that won eight games and earned an Ohio Valley Conference championship, coaching seven all-league players and an All-American. Wells was also responsible for recruiting in the Southeast and was the strength and conditioning coach for two-and-a-half seasons. EKU ranked in the top 10 in the nation in rushing his last two years.
He was the assistant head coach and offensive coordinator at Cumberland (Tenn.) from 1994-96, leading an offense that topped the NAIA in rushing two years, while helping the Bulldogs to a top-15 ranking and eight wins in their best season. Five CU players were selected to the all-conference team, with one collecting All-America honors. He also spent two years as an assistant at Smyrna (Tenn.) High School.
Wells earned a bachelor's degree in finance from Belmont in 1993 after transferring from Austin Peay, where he was on the football team for four year, having started and lettered in two of those seasons. He added a master's degree in human relations management in 1995 at Cumberland.
Wells and his wife, Jenifer, have two children - Madison and K.J.