Photos: FAMU Athletics

Florida A&M heads into its first season in the SWAC expected to contend for a spot in the conference title game and beyond.

Under head coach Willie Simmons, the Rattlers return a roster that will certainly put them in a position to compete in the SWAC East along with Jackson State and defending conference champion Alabama A&M.

But unlike the Tigers and Bulldogs, FAMU isn’t settled just yet on its starting quarterback after the departure of former MEAC Offensive Player of the Year Ryan Stanley.

With fall camp underway, four players vying for the starting role this season are returners Rasean McKay, Cameron Sapp and LeJohn Howard, along with Kansas State transfer John Holcombe II.

Simmons says each quarterback has the ability to earn the starting job before the season opener in the Orange Blossom Classic.

“Quarterback is always the one position that is the best indicator of a leader,” said Simmons during SWAC Media Day last month. Whoever separates themselves as that guy that the rest of the team wants to follow, will be the one that takes the first snaps on September 5th.”

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An early leader in the clubhouse could be McKay, who was Stanley’s backup in 2019 and won games versus Morgan State and North Carolina A&T.

During eight appearances, the redshirt junior has completed 52-of-73 passes 538 yards to go along with six touchdowns and two interceptions.

“McKay has experience on his side,” said Simmons. “He understands the offense, at this point, a little bit better than the other guys and that’s why he gets those first team reps. He is a guy that works extremely hard and is what you call a gym rat and a film rat. He has some of the intangibles that make a great quarterback.”

Howard, the only other current Rattlers quarterback to appear in a game for FAMU, has thrown seven passes for just 35 yards.

Holcombe, a three-star recruit, departed Kansas State having played in only three games after signing with the Wildcats in 2018. He went 1-for-3 through the air for 9 yards and added 71 yards on 13 carries on the ground.

Also in the mix is Samford transfer Chris Oladokun, who completed 169-of-272 passes for 2,064 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2019. He also previously played at the University of South Florida.

“I’m hoping somebody takes it and doesn’t give it up. I’d love to know who the guy will be going into fall so I can get him ready,” offensive coordinator Kenneth Black said.

“We have (five) guys that can do it. We’ll give them a chance and see who can emerge as a consistent leader and driver of the offense.”


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