WATCH: FAMU football head coach Willie Simmons discusses the outlook for 2020 spring practice. Tallahassee Democrat


The familiar sights and sounds of football-related activities return to Bragg Memorial Stadium Saturday at 2 p.m as Florida A&M opens spring practice. 

This is the first of 15 scheduled workouts.

During the first two weeks, FAMU has periods of two and three days of rest between sessions. There is a 10-day off period for spring break from March 13-March 23 for sixth and seventh practices. Saturday, April 4 and 11 are marked for the last two scrimmages of spring camp.

The Rattlers will hold its annual Spring Game on Saturday, March 28. The Orange and Green game will kickoff at 2 p.m. at Bragg Memorial Stadium.

Coach Willie Simmons begins his third spring camp with the Rattlers. The level of excitement surrounding the program is higher than in the previous two years. 

FAMU is coming off its best season in a decade. It went 9-2 with a MEAC-best 8-1 record. The Rattlers capped off 2019 with being crowned HBCU football national champions by Black College Sports Network.

These accolades were well-received. However, the Rattlers view these honors as a thing of the past.

2020年欧冠赛程表The entire focus is on 2020 and adding to the established building blocks.

FAMU showcases a stacked roster of returning players for spring camp.

Transfer signees John Holcombe II (quarterback), Orlando Heggs II (offensive lineman) and Donald Hall (defensive lineman) will also be in the mix.

As the Rattlers take the field, there are several questions to ponder. Here are the top three matters for the squad for this spring:


Ryan Stanley, FAMU's all-time leading passer, is now a graduate and training for a career playing pro football.

2020年欧冠赛程表He was the face of the program for the last four years. Now, the team's identifying mark has yet to be determined.

All 11 positions on both sides of the ball will be heavily evaluated. None with more scrutiny than quarterback.

"We'll be different for the first time in four years," Simmons said. "A different player will take the first snap of the season. We have 15 practices this spring and another 25 in training camp to figure that out. Every position is up for grabs, that one just happens to be the one people pay attention to. Especially when you lose a guy like Ryan Stanley." 

RaSean McKay2020年欧冠赛程表 was a second-string quarterback in 2019. For the most part, he played in spot duties last fall. His biggest highlight came as an injury replacement for Stanley.

The former Godby Cougar thew a 22-yard game-winning touchdown pass to Marcus Williams in FAMU's 34-31 win against North Carolina A&T in overtime.

2020年欧冠赛程表McKay started the following week and earned a road victory versus Morgan State. 

2020年欧冠赛程表His 2019 totals include completing 52 of 73 for 538 yards with six touchdowns.

Holcombe transferred to FAMU from Kansas State in January. He is a former three-star recruit from Humble, Texas. His announcement to play for the Rattlers generated a huge buzz across college football.

2020年欧冠赛程表Howard, who hails from New Orleans, was a part of Simmons' first signing class at FAMU. 

Sapp is an in-state product from Lee High School in Jacksonville.


Along with talent, one of the top attributes from last year's team was the stern leadership in the locker room.

Veterans such as Stanley, Williams, Terry Jefferson, Elijah Richardson and De'Montre Moore were the anchors of the club. 

2020年欧冠赛程表They upheld a high standard for on and off-the-field behavior. They also leave some big shoes to fill.

Simmons has identified running back Bishop Bonnett, linebacker Derrick Mayweather, safety Markquese Bell along with wide receivers Xavier Smith and Chad Hunter as the players he feels will do well in leadership positions.

"It's still the same mindset of guys looking to players who perform on game day. It also extends beyond the field," Simmons said. "Who's doing it right in the classroom, socially and in the weight room when coaches aren't around. That's what makes the best leaders."

Smith was an All-MEAC honoree in 2019. He set the FAMU single-game record with four touchdown receptions on Nov. 2 versus Delaware State.

This winter, Smith has elevated his status as a leader to match his superstar playing skills.

"I'm leading by example showing the young guys the way," Smith said. "I'm showing them hard work pays off. I'll continue to work hard and hopefully, they'll follow the lead. If they see what hard work has done for me, they know it can be the same for them." 


2020年欧冠赛程表FAMU's offense posted strong offensive numbers in 2109. However, running back was the weak link in the chain. 

The Rattlers ranked last in the MEAC in rushing with 105.8 yards per game.

2020年欧冠赛程表There were several reasons behind this low output. 

Running backs coach Joseph Henry left for a job at Missouri in the early weeks of fall camp. He was replaced by graduate assistant Mateo Kambui. Before the switch, Kambui was working exclusively with offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Alex Jackson.

In September, Eddie Tillman suffered a season-ending hip injury.

2020年欧冠赛程表Simmons wants balance with the offense.

2020年欧冠赛程表During his early career, he worked as a running backs coach. This spring, he returns to the backfield to work with the lineup. The current group includes Bonnett, Tillman, Bo Kendrick and Terrell Jennings.

Follow FAMU beat writer Rory Sharrock on Twitter @rattlernews and @married2game1.

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