TCU running back coach Anthony Jones thinks he was the worst high school teacher in the world. All he wanted was to train. But in Memphis, you had to do both.
He taught business and personal finance many times during the day and it was exhausting. However, over time, Jones realized the benefits. Coaching is ultimately learning. And by working in the classroom, Jones has learned to teach a wider range of personalities than ever between the lines.
“I used to wonder why I should teach,” Jones told 247Sports. “And I think it was God who prepared me for what he had in store, which was collegiate training.”
Jones, 36, was a high school coach in his hometown from 2007 to 2017. Five years later, he is among the fastest growing assistant coaches in college football. He had a successful job at the University of Memphis, where he drafted five NFL quarterbacks in as many seasons. Now he’s at TCU, where the Horned Frogs are ranked fourth nationally in yards per throw (6.3 yards per carry). If TCU breaks an eight-game losing streak against Oklahoma this Saturday (11:00 AM CT, ABC), those running backs will have to face a defense that has just been wrecked on the ground and is ranked 51st in yards per second. the rush has given up.
In 2021, the Horned Frogs handled the ball well. They were ranked 31st nationally, averaging 4.98 yards per touchdown. Then everything changed. TCU hires new head coachSonny Dykes), which replaced Gary Patterson after 21 seasons. The Horned Frogs lost a star running back Zack Evans to the transfer portal. Then Dykes’ initial hiring as a running coach, Samples of Ra’Shaadleft to take a job with the Los Angeles Rams.
This prompted Dykes to contact Jones in late March. Jones has spent his entire career and most of his life in Memphis. But getting the call so late in the training cycle was like a sign.
He made the jump.
The type of uncertainty associated with TCU’s ground game has created a buzz that Kendra Miller couldn’t help but feel. People wondered if TCU could continue to be as successful without Evans, a former five-star rookie and the best player to ever sign with the Horned Frogs. But Miller knew the depth Evans left behind. When Miller learned that Jones was going to be hired, he remembers thinking that this was exactly what the Horned Frogs needed.
“It was easy with him,” Miller said. “Given his knowledge and the fact that he was so young and so successful, we needed him.”
The rear room of the TCU is defined by its depth.
Miller is the workhorse of the program. Although he was often viewed as a side figure to Evans when they were together, Miller averaged more yards per carry (7.5) than Evans in 2021 and had more touchdowns (7 to 5) and fishing (from 12 to 10). Now he’s the face of the crowd, a hard-to-handle defender with amazing breaking speed.
Behind him a couple Emari Demercado as well as Emani Bailey.
Demercado is a software player. Demercado, a transfer from JUCO who has been with TCU since 2018, has quietly racked up 233 touches in the past five years. This year, his career average is 7.5 yards per carry. He is strong back at 5ft 10, 210lbs, who can also play in third down situations. Miller praised the back, explaining that “everyone on the team needs” Demercado.
Bayley, a Louisiana transferee, averaged 6.3 yards per throw last year at Louisiana State as a redshirt freshman. He is now a breakaway menace who is currently averaging 12.7 points per Horned Frogs.
As a group, the TCU trio of runners average 7.31 yards per run.
“They’re all very similar, but they’re all very different,” Jones said. “You can just turn them on and trust that they know what they are doing.
This trust works both ways.
Jones immediately gained popularity with the Fort Worth coaches due to his history in Memphis. Releasing five NFL quarterbacks in five years is rare at any level, but especially in the Group of Five. Jones is part of the coaching tree of Mike Norvell, known for his creative play patterns. He is also the head of a tree dating back to his time as high school head coach, which includes one FBS coach (Dominic BowmanArkansas) and several head coaches and high school coordinators.
But Jones earned the respect of his players for the way he interacted with them and taught them.
Jones may seem quiet at first. This lends itself to a weighted learning style with an emphasis on simplifying concepts. Miller said that Jones can tell when someone doesn’t have a nervous breakdown at first. He will then change the message slightly until everyone understands.
“He helps you think faster when you’re on the field,” Miller said. “He makes it easier than what it actually is.”
It also doesn’t hurt that TCU operates in an offensive pattern – led by Dykes and OC. Garret Riley — which was ranked 15th in the nation in scoring over the past three years at SMU. It also helps that the Horned Frog offensive line is playing well and the quarterbacks Max Duggan, Chandler Morris as well as Sam Jackson help the running game with your mobility.
These divisions, working together, have created one of the most dynamic running games in the country. The Horned Frogs are second in the country with seven carries for 30+ yards.
“We give the team a spark,” Miller said. “We can all interrupt the explosive game and launch the team.”
Miller ventured out of Memphis. This is his home. He did well with the Tigers, helping to create an unexpected NFL feed from the American Athletic Conference. But he risked his career, which is paying off now that TCU’s hall of runners is one of the best in the country.
“If we continue to accumulate positive days, I believe we have a chance to become one of the best bands in the country,” Jones said. “I really believe in it.