'He's got total command': Inside James Colzie III's first spring as FAMU's head football coach

Seventy-eight days ago, James Colzie III got a call to action for his next challenge in his football coaching journey.

That was on Jan. 27, the day Colzie was named Florida A&M’s 19th full-time head coach to oversee the reigning Black College Football National Champions.

Seventy-eight days later, Colzie has gotten his first taste of leading Rattlers football, proctoring spring camp, culminating in last Saturday’s Orange and Green Spring Game.

“It’s pretty high up there,” Colzie told the media when asked if coaching FAMU football was his dream job after the spring game.

“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.”

Colzie originally arrived at FAMU in 2022 as the cornerbacks coach, part of former Rattlers head coach Willie Simmons’ staff. Colzie became the Rattlers’ assistant head coach in 2023.

While leading the cornerbacks, the Miami native and former Florida State Seminoles star Colzie contributed to FAMU’s ‘Dark Cloud Defense’ rising near the top of Football Championship Subdivision statistical rankings.

Formerly as an accent to FAMU’s success, going 21-3 in two seasons as an assistant, Colzie’s promotion to be the head Rattler has added a nuanced element to his coaching and leadership style.

“He’s a very, very, very good head coach,” FAMU cornerback, 2023 Boxtorow All-American Kendall Bohler said about Colzie.

“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.”

Florida A&M head coach James Colzie leads the Rattlers during the FAMU Spring Game on Saturday, April 13, 2024.
Florida A&M head coach James Colzie leads the Rattlers during the FAMU Spring Game on Saturday, April 13, 2024.

Colzie signed a three-year contract worth $720,000 to coach the FAMU football team.

It’s his second head coaching job, last working the same role for St. Mary’s University in Nova Scotia from 2016-2021. In 2017 and 2018, Colzie coached the Huskies to two Loney Bowl appearances, a game that determines the Atlantic University Sports champion.

“Kendall Bohler is right. I’m a little bit different as the head coach than the DBs coach. I guess it’s because of the pay scale I’m under right now,” Colzie joked.

“I’m learning things from what I did as a first-time head coach. I’m asking more from our coordinators to help them as they go through spring practice. Being able to talk to the guys as the head coach is a heck of a lot different than talking to them as the defensive backs coach.

“At the end of the day, the practices and how we finish are on my shoulders.”

FAMU football 'going in the right direction' under James Colzie III's leadership

As Colzie wished to become FAMU’s next head coach, he had a support system lobbying for him to get the job.

An echoing voice was Rattlers running back Kelvin Dean Jr., the 2023 Celebration Bowl Offensive Most Valuable Player. Dean served on the eight-person search committee that recommended Colzie to fill FAMU’s coaching vacancy.

Almost three months later, Dean feels FAMU is trending towards repeating as the Black College Football National Champions in Colzie’s first year at the helm.

“He’s got total command. Everybody’s paying attention to detail, the small details that he wants,” Dean said of his coach. “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 had an active weekend leading into the spring game.

FAMU received its rings on Friday for winning the program’s first Southwestern Athletic Conference Football Championship last December. On Saturday, Colzie woke up early to host ‘Coffee with Colzie,’ alongside legendary Rattlers coach Rudy Hubbard, who coached the team to winning the inaugural NCAA Division I-AA (now FCS) National Championship in 1978.

The first-year FAMU head coach, Colzie, did all that while balancing official visits and preparing for his first spring game.

“It’s part of it. You have cameras following you and doing these types of interviews. That comes with the position. Have y’all seen my parking spot? That means somebody likes me to be where I’m at,” Colzie said of the early stages of his FAMU head coaching tenure.

“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 will coach his first game as FAMU’s head coach in the MEAC/SWAC Challenge, a clash between NCAA Division I HBCU conferences, when the Rattlers take on the Norfolk State Spartans on Aug. 24 in Atlanta.

He knows his first FAMU team will get every team’s best shot in the 12-game regular season slate.

“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,” Colzie said.

“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.”

Gerald Thomas, III covers Florida A&M University Athletics for the Tallahassee Democrat. Contact him via email at or on the app formerly known as Twitter @3peatgee.

No one covers the Rattlers like the Tallahassee Democrat. Subscribe using the link at the top of the page and never miss a moment.

This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: FAMU Football: A look at how Rattlers are responding to Coach Colzie