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Getting To Know Penn State Safeties Coach Anthony Poindexter

On Wednesday, February 24, James Franklin officially announced Penn State football would add former Purdue coach Anthony Poindexter to be its next safeties coach and co-defensive coordinator.

Poindexter has an illustrious football background, along with a lengthy coaching career, that could help add some serious value to Penn State’s defense.

Poindexter spent his childhood growing up in Lynchburg, Virginia. He excelled in football, baseball, and basketball. He received heavy attention for each sport he played and was even selected in the 70th round of the 1994 MLB Draft by the Florida Marlins.

The young athlete’s biggest success, and the one he ultimately chose to pursue, was on the football field. As the team’s starting quarterback and safety, he led the Jefferson Forest High School Cavaliers to back-to-back Division III state championships in 1992 and 1993. This production, along with his all-around athleticism, naturally piqued the interest of several college football recruiters.

Poindexter chose to stay home and play college football for a different Cavaliers team, this time with the University of Virginia. As a redshirt freshman, Poindexter was a part of a dominant Cavaliers defense, notably assisting in making a huge goal-line stop to upset No. 2 Florida State. That 1995 Cavaliers team would go on to become co-ACC champions, as well as Peach Bowl champions over Georgia.

In his sophomore and junior seasons as a Cavalier, Poindexter’s production only increased. Widely known for being one of the hardest-hitting safeties in college football, many teams feared throwing the ball in his direction. He was given first-team All-American honors for his performance in his junior season.

After his junior season, Poindexter was widely projected as a first-round draft pick in the upcoming 1998 NFL draft. Rather than forgoing his final season, Poindexter instead opted to return for his senior season in 1998. Unfortunately, Poindexter would suffer a serious knee injury in a game against N.C. State, tearing his ACL and two other ligaments.

This caused Poindexter’s draft stock to plummet. Luckily the Baltimore Ravens chose him in the seventh round of the 1999 NFL draft. He missed his entire rookie season but was able to play in 10 games on special teams for the 2000 Ravens — a team that would go on to win the Super Bowl, though Poindexter did not play in that game.

After that season, the Ravens chose to release Poindexter. Shortly later, he was picked up by the Cleveland Browns but was ultimately released by them as well a few months later. Poindexter would never be given another shot by any other teams, and thus never played in another NFL game.

From there, Poindexter became a graduate assistant coach for his alma mater in 2003. He would continue to work his way up the coaching ranks, eventually becoming the safeties coach in 2010.

In 2014, he chose to leave Virginia and become the safeties coach and defensive coordinator for UConn. He remained with the Huskies until 2017 when he accepted the same position with Purdue. After spending a couple of seasons with the Boilermakers, he ended up where he is now with Penn State.

Even though his career as a football player did not go as he originally planned Poindexter is still a legend in the state of Virginia. He’s received multiple honors, most notably having his jersey number retired by the UVA in 2009. Most recently, Poindexter was officially elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2020.

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About the Author

Richard Smeltzer

Richard is a senior majoring in applied statistics at Penn State. He is originally from York, Pennsylvania, and spent his first two years of college at Penn State York. Being from a family filled with Penn State alumni, he has been deeply ingrained in the culture. Growing up a Baltimore Orioles and Miami Dolphins fan, he has experienced many hardships throughout his life. You can find him screaming into the void about these teams, and much more, on Twitter @SecretRichardS. He can also be reached at richardsmeltzer25@gmail.com.

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