Posted: September 01, 2014 10:44 AM
By Shawn Wansley
JCJC Sports Information Director
ELLISVILLE – Anthony Maddox had quite the experience this summer.
The fifth-year defensive line coach for the 10th-ranked Jones County Junior College Bobcats served a three-week internship with the Atlanta Falcons during their training camp in Flowery Branch, Georgia.
For Maddox, it was like ‘old home week’ because he knew Falcons’ head coach Mike Smith.
“Coach Smith was the defensive coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars when they drafted me in 2004, so I knew him,” he said. “I had been in touch with him over the years, just things like, ‘How is everything going?’ and ‘Good luck on the game this weekend’ or that type of thing.”
Maddox credits former JCJC head coach Ray Perkins, who had been a head coach with the New York Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFL, with helping him get the internship with the Falcons.
“Coach Perkins had told me he was going to try and help me get a job in the NFL,” he said. “He saw Coach Smith at the Senior Bowl a couple of years ago and told him that he needed to hire me as his defensive line coach. I thought Coach Perkins was trying to get rid of me.
“Mike invited me to come down for an internship during their training camp this year. It was a three-week deal and it was great.”
Fans may have caught a glimpse of Maddox during his time at camp because the HBO series Hard Knocks was filming while he was there.
With the Falcons, Maddox worked under defensive line coach and former NFL standout Bryan Cox. Cox played 12 years in the league, including stints with the Miami Dolphins, Chicago Bears, New York Jets, New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints.
Maddox said he did not know what to expect when he arrived, but he was quickly put at ease.
“I got there and Bryan told me to feel free to do what I wanted,” he said. “He told me to coach the guys up and do what I needed to do. He let me work with the nose guards and he handled the ends and that’s what we did.
“I got out there and it was just like coaching here at Jones. Of course, it’s a bigger stage and a higher level, but we were doing the same things they do and they are talking about the same things in meetings that I do here with my players. Bryan delivered his message the same way I deliver my message. It was a perfect opportunity for me to be in that position. He gave me a chance to get my feet wet at that level.”
Since coming back to JCJC in mid-August from the Falcons, Maddox has maintained contact with Cox.
“It was like I knew Cox for 15 years,” he said. “He was open to everything. He took me under his wing and told me to not be shy. He said whatever you feel like saying to the players, just do it.
“I always looked up to Bryan and respected him. For a guy like that to help me the way he did was a blessing. I text him daily and he texts me. He asks about our players here at Jones and how they are doing.”
Maddox played on the 1998 JCJC team that went 12-0, won the MACJC championship and was named national champion by Mike Gottfried Sports Magazine. He would go on to Delta State University and would play for the Jaguars and Houston Texans from 2004-08.
With the Falcons, Maddox was dealing with veteran players, such as Osi Umenyiora, Jonathan Babineaux and Tyson Jackson. He had a little bit of apprehension going into coaching players who have been around the league for so many years.
“I went into it thinking how are these guys going to respond to me?” he said. “You have guys like Osi, who has almost 100 sacks in his career, and I’m thinking, ‘What can I tell him that he doesn’t already know?’ Plus, you had other veterans on the team. Babineaux came out about the same year as I did in the draft. For those guys to respect me and for them to come to me daily asking for advice was amazing.
“I remember having a conversation with Osi and I asked him, ‘What can I tell you about rushing the quarterback?’ He’s been in the league 12 years with all of those sacks. And he told me, ‘I’m always trying to get better. Anything you see that I can work on, let me know.’ We worked everyday before practice on pass rush, with his hands, timing, hand-eye coordination, feet coordination, hips – just different things like that every day.”
Maddox also realized that football is football – no matter the level. He said many of the things that Cox teaches his players are equivalent to what he teaches the Bobcats.
“Some of the things we call here at Jones are the same things he calls in Atlanta,” he said. “Bryan played and coached under some of the same guys I played under. Kacy Rodgers (defensive line coach) with the Dolphins was at Middle Tennessee and recruited me. Kacy is a mentor of mine and Bryan worked under him for three or four years. So, some of the same language Kacy taught, Bryan taught. So I’ve been around it.
“Bryan played for (former NFL player and Falcons’ defensive line coach) Ray Hamilton and Ray is a mentor of mine. There are connections there that made things a lot easier for me.”
Maddox had a chance to do an internship with the Texans last year, but had to turn it down.
So he was thrilled to have had another opportunity with the Falcons this year.
“I met some really, really great people,” he said. “Mike Nolan, the defensive coordinator, has been all over the league. I sat in on meetings with him and had several long conversations with him, not only about football, but also about life. Those guys are people, just like us.
“I just ended up in the right place at the time. It was really good for me and I made some great connections with coaches, player personnel guys and front office guys. My goal is to be an NFL coach someday and I hope those guys can take me far in my career. It gave me a jump on what I’m trying to do.”
The Falcons open the 2014 regular season at noon on Sunday at home vs. the Saints. Among the players on the Saints’ team is former Bobcat defensive end Tyrunn Walker. The game will air on FOX.
“I want to see the Falcons do well because I got a chance to meet them and hang out with them,” Maddox said. “They are some really good guys. Atlanta has a young team and some really good people. I enjoyed my time with them quite a bit. It was a wonderful experience.”
Maddox also plans on being in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Dec. 21 when the Falcons visit the Saints.
JCJC’s Anthony Maddox works with the Bobcat defensive line during practice in August.Photo/Shawn Wansley, JCJC Sports Information