Renowned offensive coordinator Willie Simmons has been selected as the 32nd head football coach in Prairie View A&M history on December 15, 2014.
Simmons comes to Prairie View A&M after an impressive three-year stint as the offensive coordinator at Alcorn State, which recently won the SWAC and SBN Black College National Championships. With Simmons on staff, Alcorn State fielded one of the most potent offenses in the country as they led the SWAC in seven offensive categories while also finishing second in the nation amongst Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) teams in scoring offense with 44 points per game during the 2014 season.
Alcorn State quarterback John Gibbs, Jr. flourished in Simmons’offense as he was named SWAC Co-Offensive Player of the Year while breaking several long-standing records held by ASU legend and former NFL standout Steve “Air” McNair. In addition to Gibbs’accolades, ASU had four players who rushed for at least 691 yards and a balanced wide receiving corps which featured four players catching 22-plus receptions.
In Simmons’second season at Alcorn State in 2013, the Braves had a major turnaround offensively from his first season as they finished second in total offense, second in scoring offense, third in rushing offense, fourth in pass offense and third in pass efficiency. Three offensive players earned All-SWAC honors with senior Arnold Walker having a career season as he led the SWAC in rushing yards (1,191) and rushing touchdowns (16). Walker also finished as ASU’s all-time rushing leader and the Braves finished 9-3 and had their first winning season since 2006 and nine-win campaign since 1984.
Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Line
Alex Jackson returns to the SWAC for the second time his in career as he starts his first season as Prairie View A&M’s offensive coordinator and offensive line coach.
Jackson comes to Prairie View A&M after one season as the offensive quality control coach at the University of Georgia. At UGA, Jackson was a part of an offensive unit which finished fourth overall in the SEC in total offense while leading the league in scoring (41.3 ppg) and rush offense with an impressive 257.8 yards per game. UGA finished second in the SEC East during the 2014 season and defeated Louisville in the Belk Bowl in Charlotte, N.C.
A native of Quincy, Fla., Jackson spent three seasons at fellow SWAC foe Mississippi Valley State in Itta Bena, Miss. At MVSU, Jackson coached the offensive line before taking over as offensive coordinator midway through the 2012 campaign. Under Jackson’s watch in 2012, MVSU had a 360 degree turnaround as the Delta Devils averaged 23.5 points per game over the final six games after averaging nine points in their first five games. Running back Brandon Stansell was named to the All-SWAC Second Team after tallying 757 rushing yards while wideout Julian Stafford caught 51 receptions for 779 yards.
Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Ends
Ralph Street is in his first season as the defensive coordinator at Prairie View A&M University.
Street spent the past three seasons at Alcorn State as the team’s defensive line coach and played a key role in helping the Braves finish the 2014 season with the SWAC’s top defensive unit. Under Street, the Braves’defensive line ranked as the SWAC’s best as they held teams to a league low 108.7 rushing yards per game while also helping the team finish second in the conference with 40 sacks. As a result of the team’s accomplishments, two of Street’s defensive linemen in Deion Roberson and Darien Moody earned All-SWAC First Team honors. Roberson ranked fourth in the SWAC with eight sacks followed by Moody’s 7.5 sacks. Roberson also tallied 21 tackles for loss as he ranked third in the SWAC en route to earning 2014 BOXTOROW All-America Team honors.
In 2013, Street helped Alcorn State complete a major turnaround as the Braves finished the season 9-3 and second in the SWAC East after a 4-7 finish in 2012. Led by Roberson, who earned All-SWAC honors, the Braves finished second in total defense and fifth in rush defense.
Assistant Head Coach / Safeties
Former NFL defensive standout Bubba McDowell begins his fifth season on the Prairie View A&M coaching staff. McDowell will work with the safeties in the 2015 campaign after spending the previous season with the entire defensive backfield and will also begin his first season as the team’s assistant head coach.
In 2014, true freshman defensive back Damond Jackson flourished under McDowell’s guidance as he earned a spot on the All-SWAC second team. Jackson finished third on the team with 80 tackles and 5.5 tackles for loss. He also broke up five passes and forced a fumble with one interception. Junior defensive back Jalen Thibodeaux also had a career season as he tallied 38 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and three pass breakups.
McDowell was challenged with working with one of the youngest units on the team entering the 2013 season as the majority of players in his unit had limited NCAA playing experience. At the end of the season, a pair of redshirt freshmen cornerbacks in Joshua Holley and Foster Brown II finished fourth and fifth, respectively on the team in tackles while also combining for 10 pass breakups. Under McDowell’s guidance, five additional Panthers in the secondary also posted career highs in tackles under in Robert Jackson II (50 tackles), Kenneth Maxwell (38 tackles), David Metcalf (31 tackles, 2 interceptions), Desmond Gardiner (29 tackles) and Dietrich Johnson (22 tackles).
Tight Ends/Video Coordinator
Joseph Henry is in his first season on the staff at Prairie View A&M University, serving as the Panthers’tight ends and fullbacks coach. Henry made stops at the University of Arkansas, The University of Alabama at Birmingham and Birmingham-Southern College before coming to the Hill.
Coach Henry spent the 2014 season as the defensive line coach at Birmingham-Southern College. His defensive line was stingy defending both the run and the pass. As a unit, they made their mark by leading the Panthers to the second best rushing defense in the conference, allowing 128.5 rushing yards per game. BSC also finished second in the conference in total sacks. Individually, three of Henry’s defensive linemen finished in the top eight in the Southern Athletic Association in tackles for loss, and three defensive linemen finished in the top nine in the SAA in sacks. Three senior defensive linemen (Paden Gaines, Wesley Hansard and Connor Shannon) earned second team All-SAA Conference honors.
Henry spent 2013 as the tight ends and fullbacks coach at UAB. The tight ends and fullbacks caught 37 passes for 374 yards and 2 touchdowns, averaging 10 yards per reception under his tutelage. Henry’s leadership helped junior tight end Kennard Backman earn honorable mention All-Conference USA accolades. Backman was also named to the 2014 John Mackey Award Preseason Watch List for the best tight end in the country, based on his production during the 2013 season.
Houston native Reggie Moore starts his first season as Prairie View A&M’s wide receivers coach. Moore comes to Prairie View A&M with a wealth of playing and coaching experience from the NFL to the high school ranks.
A native of Houston, Moore attended Madison High School and played collegiately at UCLA. During his Bruin playing career (1987-90), Moore was a three-year starter at wide receiver catching many of his balls from two of the top quarterbacks in UCLA history, Troy Aikman and Tommy Maddox. He averaged 16.1 yards per catch and scored 10 touchdowns. In 1990, Moore earned the Kenneth S. Washington Award for outstanding senior after leading the team with 40 receptions for 643 yards and three touchdowns. He had a big game in a win versus Stanford that season, catching eight balls for a career-best 133 yards. Reggie had a total of three 100-yard games in all, including a 122-yard effort in a 1988 win at California and a 105-yard game in a win at Washington, also in 1988. He earned honorable mention on the 1989 Pac-10 All-Academic team after catching 12 passes (tied for fifth on the team) for 181 yards and a touchdown. Moore was named to the 1988 first-team sophomore All-America squad by The Sporting News following a 38-catch (second on team) season in which he gained 627 yards and scored six touchdowns. His 48-yard touchdown reception from Aikman, with just 1:28 remaining in the game, was the winning margin in a 24-17 victory over Washington that season. Moore went on to play in the 1990 Blue-Gray Football Classic.
Following his collegiate career, Moore played in the National Football League for the New York Jets (1991-93) and the Los Angeles Rams (1993) as a wide receiver and return specialist. Moore then played briefly for the CFL’s then San Antonio Texans in 1995 before an injury ended his playing career. He continued his work in the game by utilizing his football knowledge and talents off the field, pursuing a career in coaching.
Brandon Sharp is in his first season at Prairie View A&M University after a previous stint at Henderson State University. Sharp will coach the team’s cornerbacks and brings a wealth of experience from the professional and NCAA FBS levels.
The Jacksonville, Fla. native had a standout high school career as he helped The Bolles School to a 14-1 record and the Florida Class 2A state title as a senior, as he earned second-team all-state accolades and led the city with nine interceptions. His junior season, he made four interceptions while helping lead Bolles to an 11-2 mark and a district title. As a result of his prowess on the gridiron, he earned a scholarship to the University of Louisville.
At Louisville, Sharp was a four-year letterman at from 2003-06 and was part of the Bobby Petrino-coached team that beat Wake Forest 24-13 in the 2007 Orange Bowl, the first BCS Bowl game in Cardinals’history. Sharp appeared in 46 career games at Louisville and finished his career with 120 tackles, 14 pass breakups, two forced fumbles and two interceptions. As a senior, he earned second-team All-Big East acclaim after collecting 50 tackles, 5.0 for loss with 2.5 sacks, seven pass breakups and one forced fumble. His junior season, he ranked seventh on the team with 48 tackles, 2.0 for loss, and added four pass breakups and one interception.
Former PVAMU standout K.J. Black joins the coaching staff on a full-time basis after spending the past four seasons as graduate and offensive student assistant.
From 2011-14, Black played a key role behind the scenes in the overall success of the Prairie View A&M offense as he helped coach the team’s quarterbacks and tight ends. PVAMU quarterbacks Jerry Lovelocke and De’Auntre Smiley have had career seasons during their tenure under Black as both players have set career and single season passing records in addition to Lovelocke emerging as a NFL prospect.
In addition to his on-field duties, Black helped develop the team’s offensive game plans, assisted in football and video operations along with aiding the coaching staff in whatever roles were needed.
Joe Scola starts his first season as the linebackers coach at Prairie View A&M. Scola arrives at PVAMU with a wide variety of experience which includes stints in the NFL, SEC, ACC and Ivy League.
Scola spent the 2015 season as an offensive quality control coach for the San Francisco 49ers. He had a hand in the team’s game planning and worked closely with the coaching staff in addition top having a plethora of on and off-field duties.
Prior to his stint in the NFL, Scola spent two seasons in the SEC at the University of Kentucky as the team’s Director of Player Development. At UK, Scola helped develop a pair of future NFL defensive linemen in Bud Dupree and Za’Darius Smith along with linebacker Avery Williamson. He also assisted in securing record-setting recruiting classes and changing the culture of Wildcat football.
Joaquin Garcia joined the Prairie View A&M football coaching staff in May, 2016, after a four-year stint on the coaching staff at the University of Houston under head coach Tom Herman.
Garcia served as the Cougars’special teams quality control coach during his first three seasons before moving into the role of defensive analyst in 2015. During his four years at Houston, the Cougars went 34-18 and appeared in bowl games three consecutive years.
Garcia was a part of the Houston’s memorable the 2015 season that saw the Cougars win the American Athletic Conference championship before defeating nationally-ranked Florida State in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. The Cougars finished the season with a 13-1 record and ranked No. 8 in the Associated Press poll, their highest ranking to finish a season since 1979, when Houston was ranked No. 5.