MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia University football coach Neal Brown has announced the hiring of Tony Washington as the Mountaineers’ wide receivers coach. Brown also announced that Sean Reagan will become the tight ends coach to complete the offensive staff.
“I am excited that Tony is joining the Mountaineer football program,” Brown said. “He has had a successful career, not only as a player, but also as a coach, who has proven he can motivate, lead and develop players. He was recently recognized by the AFCA as one of its 35 coaches under 35. He will be a good addition to our coaching staff and our program.”
Washington comes to WVU after serving as the wide receivers coach at Coastal Carolina for the past two years. During that time, the Chanticleers were one of the most successful programs in the nation, posting a 22-3 record and 14-2 mark in the Sun Belt Conference while spending most of that time in the national polls.
“Working at West Virginia University and on the football staff for outstanding coaches and respected men like Neal Brown and Graham Harrell is not only a great opportunity for me personally and professionally but also for my family,” Washington said. “The football program has a winning history with a lot of tradition that I look at with a great amount of respect. I look forward to working with a great group of coaches and players at WVU. I can’t wait to get started.”
This past season in 2021, the Chanticleers’ offense was one of the most explosive units in the nation, ranking among the top FBS teams in a variety of categories. Coastal Carolina finished with 11 wins, won the school’s first bowl game and spent time in the national top 20 for most of the season, finishing as one of the top teams just outside the top 25.
CCU was the most efficient team in the nation and produced the best third-down conversion percentage and was No. 5 in total offense and scoring offense, No. 6 in rushing offense and fewest interceptions thrown, No. 23 in red zone offense, No. 25 in first down offense and No. 28 in passing offense.
Washington’s receivers were a vital part of the offense, as Jaivon Heiligh led the squad with 66 catches for 1,128 yards and seven touchdowns, earning honorable mention All-American honors and All-Sun Belt Conference First Team honors for the second straight year. Kameron Brown was named All-Sun Belt Conference honorable-mention. Heiligh was No. 22 nationally in receiving yards, and Heiligh and Brown ranked in the Top 11 in the Sun Belt in receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. Heiligh was No. 3 in the league in receptions per game.
In 2020, the Chanticleers won the program’s first-ever Sun Belt Conference title, posting a undefeated and untied regular season. They finished 11-1 overall, including an 8-0 Sun Belt Conference record, and played in the program’s first-ever FBS postseason bowl game. The program earned spots in the Associated Press Top 25 and the USA Today Sports Polls.
Overall, the offense in 2020 led the conference in scoring offense (37.2 points per game), third-down conversion percentage (52.3 percent), fourth-down conversion percentage (76.5 percent), time of possession (33:50), completion percentage (66.6 percent), fewest interceptions thrown (5), and team passing efficiency (177.72).
CCU was second in the league for the year in red-zone offense (88.3 percent), and second in both sacks allowed per game (1.17) and tackles-for-loss allowed per game (4.33) on the year. The Chanticleers also ranked third in the conference in total offense (449.8 yards per game) and rushing offense (218.3 yards per game), both of which ranked in the top 25 nationally.
Heiligh led the offense with a team-high 65 receptions for 998 yards and 10 touchdowns on the season. He averaged 15.4 yards per catch and 83.2 yards per game on his way to becoming just the 12th Chanticleer in program history to eclipse 1,000-career receiving yards. He also became just the sixth Chanticleer in program history to record over 100 pass receptions.
Heiligh led the team in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns in 2020, but he did it in record-setting fashion by setting a new CCU single-game record with 13 receptions.
After putting together an outstanding collegiate resume at Appalachian State from 2009-13, Washington spent the majority of his NFL professional career with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Indianapolis Colts in 2014, Washington was picked up by the Jaguars later that summer before being acquired by the New England Patriots in 2017.
Washington was a multiple All-Southern Conference pick, while at Appalachian State, earning all-conference accolades in 2012 and 2013, and was selected to play in the NFLPA Collegiate Senior Bowl.
He can be found all over the Appalachian State record book, ranking in the top 10 in most pass receptions in a game (10), most pass receptions in a season (64), and most career receiving yards (1,837). He also ranks in the top 10 in the Mountaineers’ record books in several special teams categories including most kickoff return yards in a season (654), most kickoff return yards in a career (1,289), most kickoff returns in a season (31), most kickoff returns in a career (55), most yards per kickoff return in a season (27.3), most yards per kickoff return in a career (23.4), and the longest kickoff return (99).
He earned several accolades for his performance in the classroom, including SoCon All-Academic, CoSIDA Academic All-District, and ADA FCS All-Star Academic honors, along with being the 2013 recipient of the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Award & Scholarship. Washington was a Dean’s List student who also captured the school’s Science Building Most Outstanding Student Award.
In the community, Washington has served in mentorship and coaching roles for the Cheryl Littlejohn Kids Camp, Danny O’Brien Elite High School Football Academy and the Jacksonville Jaguars Community Outreach Program. In 2015, he served as a special guest speaker and receivers coach for the Nike Opening Orlando event.
Washington, who prepped at T. Wingate Andrews High School in High Point, North Carolina, earned dual bachelor’s degrees in architecture & design technology and construction management from Appalachian State in 2013. He graduated with a 3.83 grade point average.
Washington, and his wife, Tiffany, have two sons, TJ and Langston.