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Q&A with Anthony Poindexter, Penn State's Newest Assistant Coach

Anthony Poindexter, Penn State's new safeties coach, has had a long friendship with James Franklin. He discusses why it's the "right time" to join Franklin's staff.

Anthony Poindexter, Penn State's new safeties coach, was recruited by Joe Paterno and played for George Welsh, so he arrived with a sense of the program's history.

Poindexter also has shared a long friendship with Penn State coach James Franklin, with whom he has discussed jobs before. The timing never worked, Poindexter said, until this year.

Poindexter, who joined Penn State's staff in February as the safeties coach and co-defensive coordinator, met with the media Monday, covering a wide range of topics in 30 minutes. He dicsussed the influential role former Virginia coach George Welsh, for whom he played, held in his coaching career

The former Purdue assistant also discussed what he looks for in a good safety, his first impressions of Penn State's safeties and where he will recruit. Here are some excerpts from the interview.

On his relationship with James Franklin

"I met coach Franklin when I first started coaching, actually when I became a full-time coach at [Virginia]. We kind of had the same recruiting areas, and he had relationships with guys I was working with on the staff. We met each other and just became good buddies down through the years and kept up with each other. I've been watching him from afar and knowing the great work he's been doing with the teams he had at Vanderbilt and obviously here at Penn State. ... We talked a few times about job openings he had, but it just wasn't the right timing. But this year it was the right time, and I felt good about my family and myself and the situation I was coming to, so it just became the right time for me to join the staff."

On playing for George Welsh, a one-time Penn State assistant, at Virginia

"It's incredible, the impact that coach Welsh had on my life and my playing career. People who knew coach know that he wasn't the easiest person to talk to. For the five years I was at [Virginia], I was kind of scared to talk to him. I was a two-time captain and I was still scared to walk in to talk to him one-on-one. But the few times I did go in to talk to him one-on-one, I saw another side of him. He really cared about me. I had a decision to make as a junior, to come out or stay in college. I was like, 'Coach, I want to stay and I want to play for you.' And he looked me and said, 'You need to do what's best for your family. You've done a lot for me and this program, and if you want to come back, you come back. But I'm giving you my blessing [to leave].'

"I never thought he felt that way. I thought he would be more like, 'You need to stay.' But once we had that conversation, I knew how much he cared for me and he respected me as a person and as a player. And he respected my upbringing and what my family situation was. I love him to death. I had a chance to speak at his memorial, which was a great honor for me. But he just impacted my life, impacted my coaching career and how I look at coaching."

On what he's looking for when recruiting safeties

"Does the kid love football and does he have a desire to play and compete? If the kid doesn't have a desire to play or doesn't really love this sport, it's hard to play at this level. So that's first and foremost.

"Then obviously you've got to get into all the physical traits: height, weight, speed. Then I'm also trying to look for just guys that have natural football instinct. Playing safety is a lot of seeing the ball, angles and knowing how to attack the ball on every play. It all comes at you different ways on each play, so [it's about] guys who understand football and have a love and passion for it. Also, being just a contact-tough person. This is the Big Ten, so you want them to have some contact toughness."

On Penn State's safeties

"They're just good kids. The media and fans, you see the kid as a player and what he does on the football field. But just being around them, watching how they work, how they opened their arms for me and my family; it's hard when you have a coach you know - a lot of them probably were recruited by [former] coach [Tim] Banks - and a new guy comes in. So you wonder what he's going to bring that's different, how he's going to be. But I think they've been very open with me, really just trying to understand my style and my method and really helping me along and teaching me the defense as well and how they do things here. So I'm excited just to work with them."

On his recruiting territory

"When I was at Virginia and [Connecticut], I predominantly was in the Washington, DC area, northern Virginia and Maryland. When  I went out to Purdue, I still had that area but I stretched pretty much from Virginia all the way to Maine. I really had the whole Northeast. ... Here, I think they're going to let me focus in on the DMV, maybe Michigan and a little bit of Indiana, so I'm excited about it. For me, it's just about making relationships and being able to go talk to the coaches and talk to the kids in that area and just try to create relationships. And Penn State sells itself, so that's the easy point. It's one of the best schools in the country, so that's going to be easy."

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