|Earl Holmes has filled his coaching staff with former NFL players. (Fox Florida Photo).|
There hasn’t been much to be optimistic about around the Florida A&M football program in a while, but that may be changing. New head coach Earl Holmes has loaded his coaching staff with several former NFL players, including two former Pittsburgh Steeler teammates, Levon Kirkland and Ernie Mills.
Holmes played ten solid seasons as linebacker in the NFL, starting with the Steelers who drafted him out of FAMU in 1996. Holmes also played with the Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions before retiring following the 2006 season. He began coaching at his alma mater back in 2009, and was named interim head coach after Joe Taylor stepped down late last season. He was introduced as head coach in January, and quickly took to reshaping his staff.
One holdover from the Taylor era is Quinn Gray. The FAMU alum and former Jacksonville Jaguar backup was promoted from quarterback coach to offensive coordinator this winter.
Two-time Pro Bowl linebacker Levon Kirkland has been tabbed defensive coordinator. Kirkland and Holmes manned the middle of the Steelers 3-4 defense in the late 90s, leading the team to several AFC title appearances. Kirkland, who finished his career with over 1000 tackles, will assume the defensive coordinator position for the Rattlers.
Keeping with the Steeler theme, Mills will coach the wide receiver position for FAMU. The former University of Florida Star spent nine seasons in the NFL, playing on the 1995 AFC Championship squad.
New running back coach Elijah Williams didn’t play for Pittsburgh, but he’s got deep ties to Florida football. Williams starred at the University of Florida in the mid-90s, helping the Gators win the National Championship in 1996. Williams also has head coaching experience, recording a 30-12 record in five years as a high school coach in Orlando.
The defensive backs will be coached by Corey Fuller, who compiled a decade long NFL career with the Vikings, Browns and Ravens.
When the season starts this September, the coaches won’t be going out on the field to compete for them. Still, it is an impressive group that Holmes has put together. Most college players hope they have what it takes to make it to the next level. When you have a coach that has been to the next level and knows what it takes, that adds a whole new dimension.
FAMU was 4-7 overall last season, and 4-4 in the MEAC. With the talent they have coming back and the coaching they’ll be receiving from this esteemed group, don’t be surprised if the Rattlers make a run for the top of the MEAC in 2013.