Florida A&M Vs. Norfolk State To Launch NCAA Football Season In Week Zero

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In January, the NCAA Division II Council voted to allow Division II programs to participate in Week Zero. Although the measure was opposed by the Division II Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, it passed by a vote of 89-80, clearing the way for HBCUs to participate in Week Zero alongside Division I schools. 

Week Zero marks the kickoff of the college football season in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision, featuring a limited number of games to start the regular season. It occurs one week prior to the widespread commencement of games in “Week 1.”

As HBCU Gameday reports, in its slate of programming for Week Zero, ESPN will feature a game between Florida A&M and Norfolk State University, which will kick off at 7:30pm on Aug. 24. 

Florida A&M, as The Tallahassee Democrat reports, has been busy loading its roster with transfer talent built through the NCAA transfer portal. James Colzie III, who is replacing Willie Simmons after the latter departed to be a running backs coach at Duke University under Manny Diaz, has been emphasizing that this is a reload, not a rebuild.

To his point, the Rattlers have been busy during the transfer window, bringing in a platoon of players from FBS programs like Florida, North Carolina, and the resurgent University of South Florida. Many of the players, like quarterback Daniel Richardson and wide receiver Amani Johnson, also played their high school football in Florida, so the move represents a chance for the players to return to the Sunshine State. 

𝗥𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗦𝗪𝗔𝗖 𝗖𝗵𝗮𝗺𝗽𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀!#FAMU | #Rattlers | #RELOAD | #REPEAT pic.twitter.com/2UgW9yUaJ9

— Florida A&M Football (@FAMU_FB) April 16, 2024

RB Levontai “Bo” Summersett breaks free for a big gainer during Florida A&M spring football game pic.twitter.com/khknPyUiTP

— HBCU Premier Sports & More (@HBCUSports1) April 14, 2024

Colzie told reporters following FAMU’s spring football game that he loves coming to work everyday, and that he wants to remain at the university as long as they want him there. “This is one of the top jobs in the country, and I love coming to work every day. The expectation is to win and ensure the product is great on the field. Making sure we’re graduating our players and those guys are properly representing the university all the time. People ask me how long I will be here. It’s up to how long FAMU wants me here.”

His players, like FAMU cornerback and 2023 Boxtorow All-American, Kendall Bohler, already feel like he is making an impact on them. “He’s a very, very, very good head coach,” Bohler told The Democrat. “He’s a lot stricter because it’s a whole team instead of five or six players. Come to meetings and workouts on time. If you’re late, that’s on you. He isn’t playing about nothing.”

Rattlers running back coach and a member of the university’s eight-person search committee that recommended Colzie, as well as the 2023 Celebration Bowl Offensive MVP, Kelvin Dean Jr, insists that Colzie has found his stride. “He’s got total command. Everybody’s paying attention to detail, the small details that he wants,” Dean said. “Even campus-wise, meal-wise, and helping the players out. I can see us going in the right direction. I think it’s going to be really good in the near future and coming up real soon.”

Colzie, meanwhile, believes his squad will get every team’s best shot, which includes the tilt against Norfolk State University to open the season, in a primetime time slot. 

“The pressure is not just on the quarterbacks and the defense. The pressure is on me as well. What keeps me motivated? I understand this job is a high-profile job. If you got to see the ring we received, it’ll show you how much support we have from the university.“

Colzie continued, “As a champion, you wake up like that every single day. The only people that are going to make us not be champions is going to be us. We got to be able to put it together. Great job, great players, great people that I’m surrounded by every single day, and a great opportunity to be the 19th head football coach here at Florida A&M.”

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