HERO Sports welcomes you to "Two-a-Days", where we will preview every single one of the 125 FCS programs, with two being released each day from June 18 to August 18 (with the final day having three in one day). Today we give you … Florida A&M.
[divider]MORE: Compare Any Two FCS Players or Any Two FCS Teams[divider]
FCS TEAM BY TEAM PREVIEW: The countdown
FCS PRESEASON TOP 25: The poll
FCS PRESEASON ALL-AMERICA: The teams
FLORIDA A&M (3-8)
MEAC (FAMU was T8th in the MEAC in 2017)
COACH: Willie Simmons – 1st year (0-0 record)
2017 OFFENSE: 22.0 ppg (70th in FCS)
2017 DEFENSE: 28.1 ppg (81st in FCS)
SUM IT UP: The hiring of local success story Willie Simmons was a brilliant move by the FAMU brass, as Simmons was a local record-breaking high school quarterback in the late 1990s before going to Clemson and eventually The Citadel. The Tallahassee community and more importantly the FAMU Alumni base will love what they're about to see. The past few years, Simmons has turned Prairie View A&M into a consistent winner — something that hasn't happened often for the Panthers since the 1960s. The Rattlers will have to replace several starters this year, but there is talent on this roster to make a move up in the MEAC standings. Last year, young players were stepping up all over the place, particularly in the skill positions — so that's a launching pad for this year. Having Ryan Stanley back at QB is a nice starting point, and he'll have talented weapons to work with … while the defense has several cornerstones to rely on.
BEST-CASE SCENARIO: If the Rattlers aren't ready to take that big step forward in 2018, they at least will when 2019 rolls around. This program is going to go places, with Simmons setting the tone. While North Carolina A&T is unquestionably the heavy MEAC favorite, and Howard looms large starting with QB Caylin Newton, the Rattlers are one of the more intriguing teams to watch in the MEAC. It's like we all know what's coming in Tallahassee with that kind of tradition, stadium and fanbase, we just don't know exactly what the ETA is.
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BEST FCS PLAYER BY NUMBER: We count down, No. 99 through No. 1[divider]
TOP RETURNEE: RB Devin Bowers (3rd team All MEAC – leading returning rusher)
THE NEXT BEST: P Chris Faddoul (3rd team All MEAC); QB Ryan Stanley (2,190 yards passing, 16 TDs); LB Jibreel Hazly (leading returning tackler – 55 tackles, 4 TFL); DB Terry Jefferson (51 tackles, 5 TFL, 3 INTs); DE Antonio Miller (31 tackles; 6.5 TFL – led team in sacks in only 8 games); WR Chad Hunter (31 catches, 574 yards, 6 TDs); DB Orlando McKinley (31 tackles, 7 passes defensed); RB/WR Ricky Henrilus (506 yards rushing in just 7 games)
TOP NEWCOMER: DB/WR Jordan Dillard (held 6 FBS offers coming out of Miami Southridge HS)
DID YOU KNOW?: Florida A&M won the very first I-AA/FCS national championship in 1978, beating Jackson State and UMass to win it all. The Rattlers were coached at that time by Rudy Hubbard, who had coached under and played for Woody Hayes at Ohio State.
THE QUOTE: "This (the spring game attendance of nearly 8,000) was a really great turnout. The atmosphere was amazing. I’m really encouraged about the direction we’re headed in and looking forward to a great offseason and hopefully continue to build in our quest to win a MEAC championship." — Head Coach Willie Simmons said after the spring game
SOCIAL MEDIA SPOTLIGHT
THE HASHTAG: #fangsup
FOOTBALL TWITTER: @FAMUAthletics
FAMU President Larry Robinson, Ph.D and director of athletics John Eason Ph.D, get a close look at the turf project at Bragg Stadium. #fangsup @FAMU_1887 pic.twitter.com/74MGWwa4AG
— FAMU Athletics (@FAMUAthletics) June 29, 2018
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