Penn State hires Anthony Poindexter as co-defensive coordinator

Nittany Nation

17 Oct 1998: Defensive back Anthony Poindexter #3 of the Virginia Cavaliers looks on during the game against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at the Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. The Yellow Jackets defeated the Cavaliers 41-38.

Penn State head coach James Franklin has announced the hiring of Anthony Poindexter as the program’s co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach. Poindexter comes from Purdue, where he spent the last four seasons holding the same position.

“We are excited to welcome Anthony to our staff,” said Franklin. “He brings an impressive football background both as a player and a coach. As a player, he is a College Football Hall of Famer, a two-time consensus All-American and won a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens. During his 18-year coaching career, he has been a defensive coordinator and has worked in multiple Power Five conferences. Anthony’s safeties have always played hard with a nose for the ball. Anthony has an infectious personality and leads with humility. Our safeties will really enjoy learning from him. We are thrilled to welcome Anthony, his wife, Kimberly, and their three children to Happy Valley.”

“I am honored and humbled by the opportunity to be a part of the Penn State football program,” said Poindexter. “As long as I’ve played the game of football, I’ve been aware of the long-standing tradition and history of excellence here at Penn State. I look forward to being under the leadership and guidance of Coach Franklin. I’m inspired by his relentless desire to win and I look forward to contributing in any way I can. Coach Pry has assembled one of the best defensive units in the country and nothing motivates me more than young men with a will to work hard and learn. My family and I are truly grateful to be a part of this incredible University. Thank you for having us. WE ARE!”

During his 18-year coaching stint at the collegiate level, Poindexter has made stops at Virginia, UConn and Purdue. He’s spent seven seasons with either a defensive coordinator or co-defensive coordinator title, including three years as the defensive coordinator at UConn (2014-16).

Poindexter tutored a Purdue safety duo of Navon Mosley and walk-on Brennan Thieneman, who finished second and fourth on the team, respectively, in tackles in 2018, while Thieneman finished second on the team with five sacks. That was followed by Mosley and Thieneman finishing fourth and fifth, respectively, for Purdue in tackles in 2019 and Thieneman finishing fourth in 2020. Thieneman went on to earn All-Big Ten honors three times (2017, 2018 and 2020) while Cory Trice also earned All-Conference laurels in 2020.

In his first season with the Boilermakers, Poindexter helped lead a defense to a 17.7-point improvement in scoring defense from 38.2 points allowed per game in 2016 to 20.5 in 2017. Thieneman (80) and Mosely (65) finished third and fifth on the team in tackles, respectively. Thieneman secured Purdue’s victory in the Foster Farms Bowl with an interception on Arizona’s final drive.

Prior to his time at Purdue, Poindexter was the defensive coordinator and safeties coach at UConn for three seasons. During the 2016 campaign at UConn, Poindexter coached Senior Bowl-bound safety Obi Melifonwu to All-American Athletic Conference (AAC) honors. Melifonwu paced the Huskies with 118 tackles, including 73 solo stops, and four interceptions.

In 2015, UConn earned a berth in the St. Petersburg, thanks in large part to its efforts on defense. Poindexter guided a defense which led the American Athletic Conference in total defense (33rd in FBS), red zone defense (7th), scoring defense (15th) and passing yards allowed (20th). Safety Andrew Adams earned second-team All-AAC honors under Poindexter’s watch, as he led the team in tackles with 103. The Husky defense had a total of five players earn all-conference recognition in 2015.

Prior to joining UConn, Poindexter was a member of the Virginia coaching staff for 11 seasons, spending the final five seasons coaching safeties. He joined the Cavaliers’ coaching staff in 2003 as a graduate assistant, was UVA’s running backs coach from 2004-05, running backs coach and assistant special teams coordinator from 2006-08, defensive backs coach and assistant special teams coordinator in 2009, safeties coach and special teams coordinator from 2010-12 and safeties coach in 2013. 

During the 2012 season, Poindexter mentored safety newcomers Anthony Harris and Brandon Phelps, who started all 12 games and finished among the team’s top five tacklers. Harris was third for the Cavaliers with 87 tackles while Phelps accounted for 48 stops.

In 2011, Poindexter’s unit helped hold opponents to a completion percentage of just 53.7 percent, the second-lowest mark in the ACC. Rodney McLeod led the team with four interceptions and earned honorable-mention All-ACC accolades in 2011.

Under Poindexter in 2009, UVA’s defensive backs helped the Cavalier defense rank fourth in the ACC and 21st nationally in pass defense. Highlighting the group of defensive backs was second-team All-ACC honoree Ras-I Dowling and Chris Cook, who was chosen by the Minnesota Vikings in the second round (34th overall) of the 2010 NFL Draft.

As running backs coach at Virginia, Poindexter coached Cedric Peerman, a nine-year NFL veteran, to 1,749 career rushing yards and 15 touchdowns.

Regarded as one of the fiercest hitters in the game during his collegiate career (1994-98), Poindexter was a two-time consensus first-team All-American as a safety (1997, 1998). He also was chosen the 1998 ACC Defensive Player of the Year and is one of only three players in school history to earn first-team All-ACC recognition three times. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2020.

He finished his career with 342 career tackles, the ninth-most in school history and tops among ACC defensive backs. He is tied for fifth in school history with 12 interceptions.

Poindexter’s senior season ended prematurely when he injured his left knee in the seventh game of the season and later underwent reconstructive surgery. He was selected by the Baltimore Ravens in the seventh round of the 1999 NFL Draft and spent two seasons with the Ravens, who he won a Super Bowl title with, before ending his pro career with the Cleveland Browns.

A native of Lynchburg, Virginia, Poindexter earned his degree in anthropology from Virginia in 1999.

He and his wife, Kimberly, have three children – Morocca, Anthony Jr. and Chloe. Anthony Jr. is a wrestler at George Mason.

Coaching Career

2021-pres. – Penn State (Co-Defensive Coordinator/Safeties)

2017-20 – Purdue (Co-Defensive Coordinator/Safeties)

2014-16 – UConn (Defensive Coordinator/Safeties)

2013 – Virginia (Safeties)

2010-12 – Virginia (Safeties/Special Teams Coordinator)

2009 – Virginia (Defensive Backs/Assistant Special Teams)

2006-08 – Virginia (Running Backs/Assistant Special Teams)

2004-05 – Virginia (Running Backs)

2003 – Virginia (Graduate Assistant)

Bowl Games as a Coach

  • 2018 Music City Bowl – Purdue
  • 2017 Foster Farms Bowl – Purdue
  • 2015 St. Petersburg Bowl – UConn
  • 2011 Chick-fil-A Bowl – Virginia
  • 2007 Gator Bowl – Virginia
  • 2005 Music City Bowl – Virginia
  • 2004 MPC Computers Bowl – Virginia
  • 2003 Continental Tire Bowl – Virginia

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