TALLAHASSEE, FL (Feb. 28) – The Florida A&M Rattlers wrapped up off-season conditioning this morning with a 6:00 A.M. workout in Bragg Stadium. A full contingency of players attended voluntary workouts in preparation for Saturday’s official start of Spring training.
The Rattlers will have 10 practices leading up to the Mar. 30 “Orange & Green Game.” The final Spring scrimmage will take place at 2:00 P.M. in conjunction with the university’s “Preview Weekend,” recruitment and orientation weekend. In addition, the student government association will be holding their annual outdoor festival “Be Out Day.”
Head coach Willie Simmons sees a new excitement with his players in the beginning of their second tour together. “I think the most impressive thing has been their attitudes. Guys have been coming out at 6 A.M. and really worked hard and pushed each other and competed. That’s what you want as a coach. We’ll be utilizing the whole playbook this year and hopefully we’ll see the retention, the effort and excitement from them,” Simmons said.
FAMU finished the 2018 season 6-5 overall, and 5-2 in the MEAC, their first winning records in both categories since 2011, and after seven straight losing seasons, the first-year coach and his staff breathed new life into the storied program, and had the Rattlers poised to win the school’s first MEAC crown since 2010. The Rattlers even spent time as the No.1 team in HBCU football.
The spark of winning six consecutive games has certainly wet the appetites of the Rattler nation.
“Our motto this year is ‘Fight to Finish.’ Last year is done. We did some good things last year obviously, brought some excitement back to the program. But, our ultimate goal is to win a championship and in order to do that it takes a daily effort from everyone from the players to the coaches to the support staff to try to do things the right way. We started that in January with offseason conditioning and hopefully it will continue through Spring ball,” said Simmons.
Simmons will return a veteran team, focused on improving on last year’s rebirth. The success of the team will depend on veteran players who basked in the turning around of the fortunes of the team last year.
“I have seen maturity in our veterans. We have a very good group of leaders. Those guys were an integral part in last year’s team. We have returners who have played a lot of snaps and got postseason accolades. They understand the expectations and that’s what a good leader does, he reinforces the philosophy of the leader. I think those guys have taken the mantle to try to be the best group of guys we’ve ever had the opportunity to coach,” Simmons concluded.