| File:Willie Simmons' annoucement day shot.jpg |
Simmons at press conference after being named head coach at Prairie View A&M
|Born||October 12, 1980|
|Head coaching record|
Willie Simmons (born October 12, 1980) is the head coach of the Florida A&M Rattlers football team. Simmons was previously the Head Coach at Prairie View A&M from 2014 to 2017. He was previously offensive coordinator of the Alcorn State Braves. Simmons played college football at Clemson and The Citadel as a quarterback.
Early life[edit | edit source]
Willie Román Simmons was born in Tallahassee, FL to Willie and Phyllis Simmons. He is the youngest of three children and the only son. He was an All-American quarterback (ranked #10 quarterback nationally) at James A. Shanks High School after leading the Tigers to their first district championship in 22 years and being named Big Bend Offensive Player of the Year after throwing for 2,505 yards and 32 touchdowns. He received over 25 scholarship offers, and after narrowing his college choices down to Florida State, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Syracuse, and Miami, he signed a National Letter of Intent to attend Clemson to play for former Head Coach Tommy Bowden. Simmons lettered three years at Clemson (2000–2002) and participated in four bowl games (Peach, Gator, Humanitarian, and Tangerine). Simmons earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Services (Sports) Marketing from Clemson in the spring of 2002, just 3 years after he enrolled, which is 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, but 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, 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). The Bulldogs also accomplished a feat that had only been done by Marshall, which was 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 where he played alongside current NFL running back Fred Jackson.
Coaching career[edit | edit source]
Willie Simmons began his coaching career in 2005 at Lincoln High School in Tallahassee, FL, where he coached the quarterbacks and was also the Passing Game Coordinator. There he had the opportunity to coach current NFL and former South Florida Bulls 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.
Middle Tennessee State[edit | edit source]
After one season at Clemson, Simmons was offered the position of running backs coach at Middle Tennessee State by head coach Rick Stockstill, who recruited Simmons to Clemson. After his third season as the running backs coach, Simmons was promoted to Pass Game Coordinator. The following season, he was promoted to Offensive Coordinator. At the age of 30, he was one of the youngest coordinators at the FBS level. During his time as Offensive Coordinator, the Blue Raiders were ranked 20th nationally in Total Offense, while leading the Sun Belt Conference in Total Offense, Rushing Offense, and Third Down Conversion Percentage, and ranking second in Passing Offense.
Alcorn State[edit | edit source]
Simmons accepted a position on newly hired Jay Hopson's staff at Alcorn State in the summer of 2012. They inherited a program that had only won 2 games the previous season. Starting a true freshman quarterback and without spring practice, the Braves finished with a 4–7 record, highlighted by wins over previous Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) champion Grambling State and #1 ranked Alabama A&M. The 2013 season saw the Braves and Simmons' offense finish 9–3 overall (7–2 in the SWAC) and ranked #5 in the final SBN Black College Football Poll (its highest ranking ever). Simmons coached running back Arnold Walker to a career year as he led the conference in rushing (1,191 yards) and touchdowns (16), became the school's all-time leading rusher, and was voted SWAC Co-Offensive Player of the Year. Simmons' offense finished the season ranked in the Top 25 nationally in Total Offense, Rushing Offense, and Scoring Offense. 2014 was an even better year for Simmons and the Braves, as they won the Southwestern Athletic Conference Championship over Southern University, as well as being named Black College National Champions. The Braves offense set many records that season, as they finished second nationally in Scoring Offense, 8th in Total Offense, and 4th in Rushing Offense. Quarterback John Gibbs, Jr, was selected as SWAC Co-Offensive Player of the Year and Black College Player of the Year, giving Simmons two consecutive Player of the Year selections.
Prairie View A&M[edit | edit source]
On December 16, 2014, Simmons was named the 32nd head football coach at Prairie View A&M University. The Panthers were picked to finish 3rd in the SWAC Western Division in the pre-season polls. Due to previous APR sanctions, the Panthers were not allowed to participate in spring practice. Despite this, Simmons' inaugural season saw Prairie View A&M finish with an 8–2 overall record (their win over the University of Faith was vacated by the NCAA because Faith did not meet accreditation requirements) and 8–1 conference record. The Panthers finished the season with the top Scoring Offense in the nation (44.9 points per game) and ranked 8th in Total Offense. They also finished the season ranked 3rd in the SBN Black College Football Poll. Simmons became the first first-year head football coach at Prairie View A&M since 1966 to have a winning record in his inaugural season, and the Panthers' 9 wins was tied for the most at Prairie View A&M since 1964. In 2016, Prairie View A&M finished with a 7-4 record and followed up with a 6–5 record in 2017. The 2017 season marked the 3rd consecutive winning season under Coach Simmons, only the second time in fifty years that the PVAMU Panthers had three consecutive winning seasons.
Florida A&M[edit | edit source]
On December 12, 2017, Simmons was named the 18th head football coach at Florida A&M University. The storied Rattlers program had fallen on tough times, as it was fresh off a seven-year losing streak. In his first season at the helm, Simmons led FAMU to a second place finish in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, finishing one win away from winning its first MEAC championship since 2011. The team's 6-5 overall record ended the losing streak, and their 22-21 come from behind victory on the road over the eventual conference and Black College National Champion North Carolina A&T was the highlight of the season.
Personal life[edit | edit source]
Simmons is married to the former Shaia René Beckwith (also a Quincy native) who is a two time graduate of Florida A&M University . They have four children (Louis III, Raven, Shailoh, and Wraylon). Simmons' father was a well-respected mechanic in the small city of Quincy, Florida, where they resided, until a work related accident took his life in 1987 when Willie was six years old. Simmons' mother was an accomplished math teacher in the Gadsden County School District for 28 years, until chronic renal failure forced her to retire. She died in 2005. His mother was a staunch supporter of academic excellence. He once earned a C grade in middle school and she threatened to not let him touch a football again. He was given the nickname "Shotgun" by his high school game announcer for his strong arm and quick release.
Head coaching record[edit | edit source]
|Prairie View A&M Panthers (Southwestern Athletic Conference) (2015–2017)|
|2015||Prairie View A&M||8–2||8–1||2nd (West)|
|2016||Prairie View A&M||7–4||7–2||3rd (West)|
|2017||Prairie View A&M||6–5||4–3||3rd (West)|
|Prairie View A&M:||21–11||19–6|
|Florida A&M Rattlers (Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) (2018–present)|
|†Indicates BCS bowl, Bowl Alliance or Bowl Coalition game.|
References[edit | edit source]
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