Florida A&M University (FAMU) formally presented Big Bend area native Willie Simmons as the 18th full-time head coach in the history of the school’s storied football program on Tuesday, December 12, in the Alfred Lawson Jr. Multipurpose Center and Teaching Gymnasium. The Marching “100,” FAMU Cheerleaders, Venom mascot, students, athletes, faculty, staff, alumni, booster groups and family and fans from across the region came out to welcome Coach Simmons and the new era of Rattler Football.
“I’m home,” Simmons said during the press conference. “I’m honored, privileged and blessed to be here. And you will get my very best. We are going to get right to work at winning championships … and making sure our student-athletes are champions academically and off the field.”
Simmons was a phenomenal prep athlete at nearby Shanks High School in Quincy, before embarking on a stellar collegiate football career that featured stints at Clemson University and The Citadel (South Carolina). He comes to Florida A&M University from Prairie View A&M University (Texas) of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC), where he spent the last three seasons (2015-17) as head football coach.
During his tenure at Prairie View A&M, Simmons revived the flagging fortunes of the Panthers, elevating them to prime contender status in the SWAC Western Division, which featured perennial Black college heavyweights, Grambling State and Southern University.
“We are pleased to welcome Coach Simmons to the Florida A&M University family,” said President Larry Robinson, Ph.D. “Mr. Simmons made a valiant effort to get to FAMU as a football player, and we are pleased to see him here in this capacity where he will lead our student-athletes to success on and off the field.”