Paige Anders, who has coached three national championship teams during his highly successful 15-year career on the gridiron, has been selected as Northeast Mississippi Community College’s new defensive coordinator.
He comes to the Booneville campus after spending the past four seasons at two different schools in his home state, including one year at Arkansas Tech University and the past three campaigns at Ouachita Baptist (Ark.) University.
Anders served in the same position the he now holds at Northeast during his tenure at Ouachita Baptist. He guided the Tigers to their third Great American Conference (GAC) championship since becoming a charter member of the league in 2011 just one year ago.
Ouachita Baptist combined a high-powered offense with a stingy defense to outscore its opponents by an average of 44-27 over a five-game winning streak to close the regular season.
The Tigers qualified for the NCAA Division II playoffs for just the second time in program history by virtue of its GAC title. Anders’ men did their job in the opening round by holding Ferris State (Mich.) University well below their average of 34.1 points per game, but Ouachita State was eliminated with a tough 24-19 road loss.
Anders had six student-athletes receive All-GAC recognition during his final season with the Tigers. Most notably were linemen Jon Rachal and Ernest Reed plus linebackers Luke Holt and Elijah Jones, who were each second team selections.
Ouachita Baptist finished in the top 20 nationally in turnover margin at plus-one and placed third in the GAC in scoring defense at 26.2 points per game under the watch of Anders in 2017.
The Tigers went a combined 14-8 during Anders’ initial two seasons in Arkadelphia, Ark. Anders instructed nine all-conference standouts during that time, including two-time honoree Kendrick Henderson at linebacker.
The Hampton, Ark., native performed the duties of safeties coach and recruiting coordinator during his lone year at Arkansas Tech in 2014. His involvement helped the Wonder Boys become the third ranked defense in the GAC.
Shai Kobayashi blossomed during his senior season under Anders’ tutelage. He became a NCAA Division II All-American after compiling 80 tackles, 10 passes defended and one fumble recovery for Arkansas Tech.
Anders got his start in the coaching business at Valdosta State (Ga.) University in 2003. His primary responsibilities over a four-year stint included assisting with the secondary and linebackers as well as film breakdown for the entire defense.
It was during his stay with the Blazers that Anders captured his inaugural national title. Valdosta State secured the NCAA Division II championship in 2004 with a 36-31 triumph over Pittsburg State (Kan.) University.
Anders and the Blazers made three NCAA Division II playoff appearances. Among his pupils at Valdosta State was Maurice Leggett, who played a pair of seasons for the Kansas City Chiefs and is currently on the roster for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League (CFL).
His furthest coaching destination west was a stop at Texas Tech University during the 2011 campaign. Anders worked with the Red Raiders’ linebackers as part of a graduate assistant position under then-headman Tommy Tuberville.
Anders is well versed with football inside the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) after previously working at two separate schools in the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference (KJCCC).
His first taste of the two-year level was at Butler (Kan.) Community College from 2007-10. He helped the Grizzlies claim back-to-back NJCAA national championships while teaching their defensive backs.
Butler downed Snow (Utah) College 56-27 to clinch the title during Anders’ opening campaign with the team. One year later, the Grizzlies finished off the repeat with a thrilling 37-30 double overtime victory over Snow in their second straight Top of the Mountain Bowl.
Anders won his third KJCCC crown with Butler in 2010 and had the opportunity to earn a third national title. But the Grizzlies fell to Navarro (Texas) College by a narrow 13-12 margin in the Citizen’s Bank Bowl to come just short of that goal.
Butler led the KJCCC in total defense and scoring defense during each of Anders’ four seasons while racking up an incredible 42-5 record in that span. The Grizzlies also topped the league in interceptions in all but one year with Anders on their staff.
His most recent job in the NJCAA ranks was as the defensive coordinator at Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College. The Red Ravens allowed only 139.1 rushing yards per contest and were a solid 6-3 in home games during his stretch with the program from 2012-13.
Anders developed Martrell Spaight, who was named a first-team All-American by the NJCAA and was the KJCCC Defensive Player of the Year. Spaight later signed with the University of Arkansas in the Southeastern Conference (SEC).
Coffeyville lost to Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College in the KJCCC semifinals to the end the 2012 campaign with a 6-4 record. The 2013 edition of the Red Ravens improved upon their numbers defensively, but narrowly missed qualifying for the postseason.
Overall, Anders has won five league championships and reached the playoffs eight times during his prominent career. Six of his pupils have garnered NJCAA All-American status while 13 have inked with NCAA Division I institutions in conferences such as the SEC and Big 12.
Anders earned his Bachelor’s degree in general studies from Valdosta State in 2006. He and his wife Erin have three sons, Beau (9), Jake (4) and Will (1).