Former FIU Running Back Finding Success with Fan Controlled Football

Former FIU running back Anthony Jones (right) celebrating after scoring one of his two touchdowns in his FCF debut with the Zappers. Photo provided by FCF

Richard Gibson / Sports Director

When the National Football League finished their 2020 season with Super Bowl LV on February 7th, it once again began the offseason for American football. 

The longest offseason of any professional American sport, it’s a seven month period in which all 32 teams look to draft new players, sign or trade free agents, and prepare for the season ahead. Even when the NFL isn’t active, it always remains relevant in the sports world.

Of course, that hasn’t stopped newer football leagues from forming in the wake of an ending NFL season, such as the Alliance of American Football in 2019, and the renovated XFL in 2020. The problem is they usually don’t last, with the AAF folding after eight weeks, and XFL operations being halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

One new league looking to make a name for itself is Fan Controlled Football, originally founded in 2017 but with its first season beginning this year. What makes this league unique is its radically different ruleset, along with a fan-oriented experience that lets them call the shots.

The league currently has four teams, with a wide selection of players from different backgrounds, including college, the NFL, the Canadian Football League, the AAF, or the XFL. One notable player in the FCF is the former quarterback of the Texas A&M Aggies and Cleveland Browns, Johnny Manziel. 

However, one running back in the FCF that’s making a name for himself happens to be a former FIU Panther. Anthony Jones played for the Panthers from 2015 to 2019. A South Florida kid who grew up in Miami, he played his high school ball at Miami Central. 

“I loved playing in Miami, and I don’t regret nothing,” Jones said in an interview with PantherNOW. “I loved playing at the Riccardo Silva Stadium, and it was a pleasure. I loved each Saturday that we had a game, and I loved playing in front of the fans and my family in Miami.”

Jones was a dominant force for FIU. In his first year with the Panthers, he earned a modest 243 yards off of 48 carries, but his stats would surge the following year. His total yards rose to 562, including four touchdowns and an average of 46.8 yards per game.

After redshirting his junior season in 2017 due to an injury, he would return the next year to play a limited amount of football. Still, in six games of work, he managed to record 338 yards and six touchdowns. He was awarded  a 2018 All-Conference USA Honorable Mention.

While his junior year was solid, his senior season in 2019 was statistically his best. He broke almost every record he held,, including 867 total yards and nine touchdowns off of 187 carries. He also averaged 72.3 yards per game, and earned his longest single rushing play of 65 yards in a win against the Texas-El Paso Miners.

For his efforts, Jones was given another All-Conference USA Honorable Mention, along with being featured in the 2019 Athlon Sports Preseason All-Conference USA Second Team. He was then invited to the 2020 Hula Bowl- an all-star game for college football players in Honolulu, Hawaii. 

Jones in his final season as a Panther in 2019. Photo by FIU Athletics

Jones said that his proudest moment as a Panther was when they upset the Miami Hurricanes on November 23rd, 2019. “We made history,” said Jones. “We did something in FIU history that no other team had done. I think we added a little bit more fire to the campus and to the program. We proved to everyone that FIU can compete with anyone in the country.”

Football runs in the family for Jones. One of his three siblings is Dalvin Cook, a former running back for the Florida State Seminoles who is currently the starter for the Minnesota Vikings. He was drafted by the team in 2017, and while he has missed some games due to injuries, he’s ready to go for the upcoming 2021 season. 

The FCF season began on February 13th, and will continue for four more weeks until the Championship. As mentioned earlier, the FCF gives the fans the ultimate say. Games are streamed live on Twitch on Saturdays, and fans can vote mid-game on offensive and defensive plays that both teams will use.

In addition, fans vote on the team rosters each Wednesday on a fan-run draft. All players and staff are stationed at a bubble location in Georgia to avoid unnecessary travel, similar to how the National Basketball Association resumed their 2020 season at Walt Disney World. 

All games are being played at the Infinite Energy Center, located just outside of Atlanta. The four teams currently in play are the Glacier Boyz, Zappers, Beasts, and Wild Aces. Jones was drafted to the Zappers in week one, and had a short but efficient game with three carries and two touchdowns in a 48-44 loss to the Beasts.

“Because there’s no other football being played right now, the FCF has the attention of the fans,” said Jones. “Streaming is growing tremendously fast. Even if it’s the FCF and some fans might now know what it is, or still might be new to it and are trying to figure it out, they still want to watch just because of the fact that it’s football.”

Instead of having 11 players on offense and defense, the FCF has a 7v7 lineup on a 50-yard field. There’s no kicking of any kind. Instead, a 1v1 matchup between a wide receiver and defensive back at the goal line determines two extra points after a touchdown. 

In addition, games are one hour long, with no replays and a running clock. Overall, the FCF is designed to be faster-paced and higher scoring than any other football league out there. 

“Coming in, I thought this was going to be 11 on 11,” said Jones. “I’m just trying to get the feel for everything, along with watching the film and seeing how I can get where I want to be from this league.”

Jones hurdling into the end zone in Week 1 with the Zappers. Photo provided by FCF

Jones still aspires to play in the NFL once all is said and done. He was signed to the Seattle Seahawks as an undrafted free agent in April 2020, but was waived from the team in early August. The Seahawks had to slowly cut their roster back down to 53 players, and Jones didn’t make the cut. 

“I’m trying to get as much film as possible to let scouts in the next level know that I’m not just home sitting on the couch,” said Jones. “I’m still grinding and want that aspiration that I felt and want to feel in the future. I want to play in the highest level of football, which is the NFL. I know that I have NFL talent, and I’m grinding each and every day to put it on display.”

To Jones, hard work and persistence to football has made him a better player. Even when Jones was hospitalized following a drive-by shooting in September 2018, he soldiered on, eventually recovering and getting back to work for the Panthers.

“I’ve been playing football since I was four years old,” said Jones. “As soon as I touched a football, I fell in love. I can’t really say I knew where I would be today, but I knew that I would be playing football at a high level, because I work hard and I keep God first. Hard work beats top talent any day.”

Be sure to tune in to Week Three of the FCF on Saturday, February 27th over at, as the Zappers take on the Wild Aces at 8pm, and the Beasts take on the Glacier Boyz at 9:30pm.

About the Author

Richard Gibson
Former Sports Director of PantherNOW

Be the first to comment on "Former FIU Running Back Finding Success with Fan Controlled Football"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.