Willie Simmons | Florida A&M University

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Team: Florida A&M University
Organization: NCAA Football
Position: Head Coach
Hometown: Tallahassee, Florida

Biography

Willie Simmons was named the 18th full-time head football coach in the history of the Florida A&M University storied program on December 12th, 2017. Simmons enters his fourth season with the Rattlers (15-7, 12-3) in 2021 (the third season canceled due to COVID-19).

Simmons, a native of Quincy, was a phenomenal prep athlete at Shanks High School, before embarking on a stellar collegiate football playing career that featured stints at Clemson University and The Citadel (S.C.). Simmons comes to Florida A&M University from Prairie View A&M (Tex.) University of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC), where he spent three seasons (2015-2017) as head football coach. Simmons is considered one of the most creative and innovative offensive minds in the collegiate game.

In 2019, Simmons brought the Rattlers back to national prominence, leading them to a 9-2 record (6th best winning percentage in the nation) and winning the 2019 HBCU National Championship. They finished the season ranked No. 24 in the country (STATS and Coaches' Poll) and ranked as high as No. 12 in the nation (STATS Poll, week 12). The biggest win of the season came against North Carolina A&T (Celebration Bowl Champion and ranked No. 10 in the nation at the time of playing). 

The Rattlers air attack was unstoppable during the 2019 season, as their passing offense ranked No. 17 in the nation (291.1 YPG), team passing efficiency rated No. 22 (148.51), and the scoring offense ranked No. 26 (32.7 PPG).

On top of having one of the best passing attacks in the nation, the Rattlers were among the best when it came to turnovers (No. 21 in the country for turnover margin (.64)), converting 3rd downs (No. 13 in the nation (45%)), and keeping the quarterback upright (No. 4 in the country (.73)).

Defensively, the Rattlers were shutting down opposing offenses. They ranked No. 21 in team passing efficiency defense (118.7), No. 25 in rushing defense (129.4 YPG), No. 42 in total defense (361.7 YPG), and No. 16 in passes intercepted (15).

Simmons coached a MEAC high six student-athletes to the All-MEAC First Team and nine total for all three teams. Also, Quarterback Ryan Stanley was named the MEAC Offensive Player of the Year.

In Simmons' first season as the Rattlers head coach, the Rattlers saw an improvement in conference wins (from 2-6 to 5-2), total offense (No. 74 / 345.5 YPG to No. 57 / 391.2 YPG), total defense (No. 60 / 365 YPG to No. 34 / 354.8 YPG), and scoring defense (No. 81/28.1 PPG to No. 23 / 22.1 PPG).

Simmons coached three student-athletes to the All-MEAC First Team and 11 total for all three teams.

During his tenure at Prairie View A&M (PVAMU), Simmons revived the flagging fortunes of the Panthers. Simmons elevated them to prime contender status in the rugged SWAC Western Division, which featured perennial Black College heavyweights, Grambling State and Southern University.

Simmons fashioned a 21-11 overall record and a 19-6 league record, highlighted by an 8-2 debut campaign in 2015, which included an 8-1 runner up finish in the division to eventual division champion Grambling State, after dropping a sizzling 70-54 wild west shootout in the State Fair Classic in Dallas, Texas.

Simmons worked three seasons at Alcorn State (2012-14)under Jay Hopson and immediately helped initiate a meteoric revival of a proud Braves gridiron program, which had won just (2) games the previous season.

The 2014 campaign was an even better year for Simmons and the Braves, as they won the Southwestern Athletic Conference Championship over Southern University and named Black College National Champions.

Before his successful run at Alcorn, Simmons' first full-time work as an assistant coach on the college level came at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro (2007-11), under head coach Rick Stockstill, who recruited Simmons to Clemson.

After three seasons as the running backs coach at MTSU, Simmons was promoted to Pass Game Coordinator. The following season, he was promoted to Offensive Coordinator. By the age of 30, he was one of the youngest coordinators at the FBS level.

Simmons began his coaching career in 2005 at Lincoln High School in Tallahassee, Fla., where he coached the quarterbacks and was also the Passing Game Coordinator. There he had the opportunity to coach former NFL and USF quarterback B.J. Daniels. After one season, he was brought back to his alma mater Clemson as a Graduate Assistant Coach working with the quarterbacks in 2006.

Simmons had a highly distinguished prep career at Quincy's James Shanks High School, earning All-American honors as a quarterback (ranked No. 10 quarterback nationally). Simmons led the Tigers to their first district championship in 22 years and named Big Bend Offensive Player of the Year after throwing for 2,505 yards and 32 touchdowns.

He received over 25 scholarship offers, signing with Clemson, where he lettered three years (2000-2002), participating in four bowl games (Peach, Gator, Humanitarian, and Tangerine.)

Simmons earned a bachelor's degree in Services (Sports) Marketing from Clemson in the spring of 2002, just three years after he enrolled, the fastest any football player has ever graduated from the university.

He initially transferred to Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, FL, for his senior season. After being deemed ineligible to compete because FAMU was in provisional status as a Division I-A (now FBS) program, he enrolled at The Citadel (S.C.), where he garnered All-Southern Conference First Team honors after leading the Bulldogs to a 6-6 record (the first non-losing season in 10 years.)

Under Simmons' leadership, The Citadel also accomplished a feat that had only been done by Marshall University, which was to defeat Furman, Appalachian State, and Georgia Southern in the same season.

After Simmons' college career, he played one season of Arena Football in the United Indoor Football League for the Sioux City Bandits. 

Willie Roman Simmons was born in Quincy, Fla. on October 12th, 1980, to Willie and Phyllis Simmons. He is the youngest of three children and the only son. Simmons is married to the former Shaia Rene Beckwith (also a Quincy native)., who is a two-time graduate of Florida A&M University. They have six children, Louis III, Amerie, Raven, Shailoh, Wraylon, and Truth.

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