Sudden Changes: Coaching departure moves new assistant to familiar role

When Byron Anderson least expected it, Monte Coleman gave him the assignment to coach a position he’s most familiar with.

Not that he didn’t want to give coaching linebackers a try.

“I was kind of excited to coach linebackers, something new,” said Anderson, now Arkansas-Pine Bluff’s secondary coach. “I’m a guy who always looks for a challenge, and coaching linebackers, I knew it was going to be a challenge because I never played the position or coached the position.”

But Anderson, who was a graduate assistant under Coleman during the 2011 season, accepted the challenge when he was hired in early February, almost exactly the same time Anthony Jones was hired as the Golden Lions’ offensive coordinator.

“When you’re in the coaching profession, you want to learn all different aspects of coaching and you want to work yourself around the ball because you might want to be coordinator one day,” said Anderson, who previously coached at Missouri Southern. “You want to know from front end, the D-line, the D-line to the secondary.”

A month later, Henry Miller resigned as secondary coach, allowing Coleman to make the genius move of shifting Anderson back to the secondary so the former Redskins linebacker can coach his old position, one he once said “is very near and dear to my heart.”

“Me moving to the secondary, it’s some familiarity because that’s what I always played,” Anderson said. “I always coached in the secondary.”

Had Anderson not been moved, he would have had two very good points of reference on coaching linebackers. Aside from Coleman, there’s also defensive line coach Dwayne Curry, who played linebacker at Mississippi State.

But, as it is, Coleman gets to reshape an LB corps that boasted two of the top tacklers per game in the Football Championship Subdivision in soon-to-be graduating Jer-ryan Harris and redshirt Antonio Jenkins. Harris and classmate Xavier Lofton are key losses in that unit for 2014.

Anderson must replace a pair of graduating cornerbacks in Gyovanni Harvey and David Watson. Right now, rising junior safety Kevin Rucker is giving the Lions’ secondary leadership.

Rucker is even helping Anderson get used to UAPB’s 4-3 scheme after coaching in a 3-3-5 set at Missouri Southern.

“Rucker is more a leader back there,” Anderson said. “He’s the quarterback of the secondary. He gets everything lined up.”