Jan. 21, 2014
Over the next few weeks, UConnHuskies.com will take an in-depth look at the new football coaching staff head coach Bob Diaco has assembled. The series will include feature stories along with special edition episodes of "The Blitz" for each coach. Next up, Defensive Coordinator/Safeties Coach Anthony Poindexter.
By Steve Lewis
Anthony Poindexter, the new defensive coordinator for the UConn football team, has arguably one of the most important jobs in the Bob Diaco era -- to pump life into the defensive unit.
With playing experience in the NFL and a long, storied playing and coaching career at Virginia, Poindexter has the capability of accomplishing his mission’s goal.
Poindexter spent the last ten seasons coaching with the Cavaliers in various roles, serving as a graduate assistant and a running backs, special teams and defensive backs coach. His long tenure at his alma mater allowed him to meet Diaco for the first time during Diaco’s days as the linebackers and special teams coordinator at Virginia from 2006-08.
“It was great, Bob and I hung out a lot. I helped with special teams so we formed a great relationship there,” said Poindexter. “He always said if I get the chance to hire you, I’m going to hire you. We didn’t work together for four or five years, but then I got the call so it was great and I’m excited to be here.”
For the past three years, Poindexter had position responsibility for the Cavaliers’ safeties. In 2011, he helped his players hold their opponents to a completion percentage of just 53.7 percent, which was second best in the ACC. In 2009, Virginia’s defensive backs were ranked No. 4 in the ACC and No. 21 in the nation in pass defense under Poindexter’s leadership.
After his two-year NFL career, Poindexter returned to Virginia and credits various coaches for influencing his career today. “The coach who hired me into coaching, Coach Al Groh at Virginia was a big influence on my life and how I do my business. He’s had a big influence on Bobby (Diaco) as well,” said the new UConn defensive coordinator.
He added: “Al Golden at Miami was also a big influence -- he was my graduate assistant in college and we worked on the same staff. I’ve been with some great coaches.”
Though he has learned much from these coaches, Poindexter still relies on his own personal character and passion for coaching college players. “I’ve learned a lot of different coaching styles. I’ve got a certain type of personality though, so I have to be me, but I’ll use some of their knowledge and techniques to try to get the message across to the young men.”
Poindexter’s playing days are just as impressive as his track record in coaching. He was selected by the Baltimore Ravens in the seventh round of the 1999 NFL Draft, which is where he played for two seasons before ending his pro career after a brief stay with the Cleveland Browns. Poindexter was with the Ravens during their Super Bowl victory over the Giants in Super Bowl XXXV.
A strong-hitting, fiery safety at Virginia, Poindexter earned first-team All-America honors during his junior and senior seasons. He recorded 342 tackles and 12 interceptions during his four years as a Cavalier and was chosen as the ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 1998.
“My college career and my pro career both have helped me because I learned different things from different coaches,” said Poindexter. “The one common denominator was the guys in the locker room loved each other, they took coaching, they played hard, they played fast and they played with energy.”
“What I got out of my playing days was trying to get the other players to play with passion, Some wins didn’t look great, but at the end of the day all you try to do is have more points than the other team,” said the new defensive play-caller.
The defense that Poindexter is now in charge of allowed 30.2 points per game last season, while giving up 384.6 yards of offense on average.
“I don’t look at it as rebuilding, I look at it as the opportunity to revive or re-energize a group of young men that really want to win and are really looking for the leadership to take them to a winning season,” said Poindexter.
As Poindexter enters his first offseason and regular season as a defensive coordinator, he remains confident that his previous experience and fellow coaches will help to make the UConn defense a force to be reckoned with.
“I’ve been the special teams coordinator so you kind of access the whole team, but the defensive coordinator spot is a big step for me but again, I’m coming to get mentored by a guy (Diaco) I really respect and trust,” said Poindexter. “I trust these guys and we’ll work collaboratively to get it done.”
Poindexter’s wife, Kimberly, has been searching for new houses in the area for the family to move up to from Virginia. The family consists of 14-year old Morocca, 11-year old Anthony, Jr., and seven-year old Chloe.
Poindexter’s family spends a lot of time together. “We like to hang out, watch TV and they like to travel. Most times when daddy is home, he likes to sit down, but they like to travel,” joked Poindexter.
There may be aspects of the UConn defense that are uncertain, but one thing for certain is that Poindexter is the man for the job.