It’s no surprise. It was just a matter of when.
Former Alabama A&M head football coach Anthony Jones has officially been named offensive coordinator at Arkansas-Pine Bluff after spending nearly a month on a temporary basis at that position. Jones was elevated to full-time status Tuesday.
“It’s another opportunity to coach and work with young people,” Jones said. “I’ve had a chance to meet a lot of the guys, the coaches and players. They’re good quality people. I thank God for the opportunity.”
Jones was a teammate of UAPB head coach Monte Coleman on the 1987 Washington Redskins team that won the Super Bowl, but this is the first time the two will work together as coaches.
Jones isn’t the only new hire on the Golden Lions’ staff. Former UAPB graduate assistant Byron Anderson has returned as a linebackers coach.
Jones, who coached A&M the past 12 seasons, replaced Eric Dooley, who left to Broderick Fobbs’ staff at Grambling State as offensive coordinator. Dooley led the Lions’ offense the past three seasons while mentoring All-SWAC quarterback Ben Anderson.
While Jones wouldn’t talk much about his offensive philosophy — adding it’s more about the players than about him — he of course has “plenty of things in mind” on how to use the versatile senior-to-be quarterback.
“I’m going to give him a chance to be that guy, that quarterback,” Jones said. “He’s an athletic kid who can run and can pass. We’ve got to have kids around him to allow him to be that talent, but everyone has to play a role for us to be successful.”
Anderson and the Lions’ offense had success racking up yards during an otherwise dismal 2013 season in which they finished 2-9. Dooley’s no-huddle spread offense averaged 421.1 yards per game and scored fewer than 21 points in conference just once last fall.
Jones’ offense at A&M was typically balanced in the run and pass but tended to feature bruising, yet quick running backs such as Barrington Scott, who rushed for 1,058 yards last year. The Bulldogs averaged 342.5 total yards last season.
Jones’ contract at A&M was not renewed after a 4-8 season, but he went 83-57 there and led the Bulldogs to five SWAC title games, winning only in 2006 against UAPB.
“My thing was, when that situation occurred, I didn’t know where God was going to lead me,” Jones said. “I didn’t know if I was going to take a break or get back into it. “
Out of the other opportunities that came up, Jones said, no head coaching jobs came up.
Byron Anderson, who played at Grambling from 1998-2002, helped with the defensive line as a graduate assistant at UAPB during the 2011 season. He spent the past two seasons at Division II Missouri Southern working with the secondary.
Anderson said the biggest challenge he faces with the UAPB linebackers is the lack of experience, although Willie Duncan III and Antonio Jenkins are coming off impressive freshman and redshirt sophomore seasons, respectively. But the Lions lose SWAC Defensive Player of the Year Jer-ryan Harris and Xavier Lofton to graduation.
“Sometimes, youth is good,” Anderson said. “You can go in and mold each player the way they should be molded.”
Anderson was head coach at Ringgold (La.) High from 2003-05 and spent the next five years as a secondary coach at Ruston (La.) High.