Willie Simmons, who played at Clemson when Rick Stockstill was on staff, is in his third season at Middle Tennessee where he coaches the Blue Raider running backs.
Simmons had a real challenge in 2009 when senior Philip Tanner went down with an injury in the second game of the season, leaving the Blue Raiders without an experienced running back. Simmons guided D.D. Kyles to a career year as the sophomore posted 857 yards on 139 carries (6.2 ypg average), scored three touchdowns, and had 14 receptions. Kyles, the team's leading rusher down the stretch, had three straight 100-yard rushing games during the last half of the season.
In 2008, Tanner turned in a career year by setting personal bests in rushing yards, receptions, and touchdowns. Also under Simmons' watch, Tanner earned National Player of the Week honors after setting a Sun Belt Conference and Blue Raider scoring record with six touchdowns in a win over North Texas.
Under Simmons' leadership in 2007, DeMarco McNair led the conference in touchdowns scored, and Phillip Tanner registered his first 100-yard rushing game with 144 yards on national television against Louisville.
Simmons made his way to Murfreesboro in 2007 after one season on Tommy Bowden's staff at Clemson, where he was a graduate assistant. Simmons worked with the offense while handling various other duties with the program.
Before joining Bowden's staff, Simmons served as the quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator at Lincoln (FL) High School in 2005.
Simmons, a native of Quincy, Fla., lettered three years as a quarterback at Clemson from 2000 to 2002 and passed for 2,530 yards and 16 touchdowns in 24 games. As a freshman, Simmons came off the bench for a hurt Woodrow Dantzler and threw for 228 yards and a record-tying four touchdowns in Clemson's 38-24 win at North Carolina to earn ACC Rookie of the Week honors. Simmons played two years as a backup to Dantzler before becoming the starter in 2002.
Following three years at Clemson, Simmons transferred to the Citadel in 2003 and earned first team All-Southern Conference honors.
A prep star at Shanks High School, Simmons threw for over 6,000 yards and 96 touchdowns during his brilliant career while also earning a 3.8 grade point average.
Simmons, who was born on October 12, 1980, in Tallahassee, Fla., earned a degree in sports marketing from Clemson in 2002. Simmons is the earliest football player to graduate at Clemson when he accomplished the milestone in three years.