Now in his third full season coaching running backs for the Tigers, Anthony Jones already has helped four Memphis standouts secure active roles as NFL running backs. (Photo: Terry Davis)

The American Football Coaches Association has selected Memphis running backs coach Anthony Jones Jr. as a participant in the 2021 AFCA 35 Under 35 Coaches Leadership Institute.

The leadership institute is a prestigious program that identifies and develops premier future leaders among football coaches from across the country.

Selected participants are invited to attend the one-day institute, which features interactive lectures that emphasize leadership in coaching, ethics, influential responsibilities, career progress and family balance.

This year’s group of 35 was chosen from a field of more than 150 applicants.

Jones is a Memphis native in his third full season coaching running backs for the Tigers. He has coached former Tiger standouts and current NFL running backs Darrell Henderson, Tony Pollard, Patrick Taylor Jr. and Antonio Gibson.

Kenneth Gainwell, who is likely to be in the NFL next season, led all FBS freshmen with 2,069 all-purpose yards last season under Jones’ guidance.

A 2004 Westwood High School graduate, Jones left the Bluff City to attend the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, playing wide receiver for the Mocs from 2004-07.

After his playing career at Chattanooga, the 2006 All-Southern Conference (SoCon) first team honoree spent 2007 as a graduate assistant coach at his alma mater, before returning to Westwood as an assistant coach.

He served in that role at Westwood from 2007-10 and took over as the program as head coach in 2010

As the head coach at Westwood, he guided the Longhorns to their first winning season in 18 years. That marked the first of three-straight conference and regional championships (2010, 2011, 2012) for Westwood.

In 2013, Jones left to take over the program at Cordova High School. His first season at Cordova saw the program post its first winning season in nine years.

Three years later, his 2016 Wolves registered the most wins in school history (12-2 record) and advanced to the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA) Division I Class 6A state playoffs semifinal round, falling to the eventual state champs.

In 2017, Jones led Cordova to an 8-3 record and a TSSAA Division I Class 6A playoffs appearance.

In six seasons at the high school level, 75 Jones-coached players signed football scholarships.

In Jones’ first two seasons at the U of M, the Tigers’ rushing attack piled up 6,533 yards and scored 78 touchdowns. The 6,533 yards are the most over a two-season span (2018-19) in program history, and the 78 touchdowns via the ground are second in school history to only the 79 scored in 2017-18.