By: WCTV Eyewitness News
December 12, 2017
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Florida A&M University formally presented North Florida native Willie Simmons as its 18th full-time head football coach Tuesday.
University President Larry Robinson, Interim Athletics Director John Eason and Rattler Booster President Tommy Mitchell welcomed Simmons to the FAMU family during an event at the Lawson Center.
Simmons promised a new and brighter era in FAMU football, calling on fans to rally around the players and the program.
"We can and we will become a model of consistency and excellence," Simmons told the crowd.
Simmons was a phenomenal prep athlete at Shanks High School in Quincy before embarking on a stellar collegiate career that featured stints at Clemson and The Citadel.
"To every one from Gadsden county... thank you for believing in a little snotty nosed boy who picked up a football at age eight, that you watched grow... and to come full circle back home," Simmons said upon his introduction.
"Thank you for your continued love and support. I look forward to seeing each and every one of you at Bragg this season," said Simmons.
He also thanked his family for being patient with him, joking that it took him 19 years to come back home.
The coach comes to FAMU from Prairie View A&M University in Texas. Simmons tallied a 21-11 record as head coach of the Panthers.
He takes over a Rattlers team that hasn’t seen a winning season in more than six years.
Previous head coach Alex Wood resigned in November. Wood was 8-25 in three seasons. The Rattlers went 3-8 this season and 2-6 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
"We will overcome adversity time and time and time again in everything that we do," said Simmons.
"You will see an exciting brand of football this fall, because you will see a group of young man who truly love what they do," the new head coach promised.
Watch Simmons' speech at the press conference below: