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Wisconsin football assistant coach profiles: cornerbacks coach Hank Poteat

An overview of Wisconsin cornerbacks coach Hank Poteat who is entering his second season on staff.

The Wisconsin Badgers football coaching staff underwent an uncharacteristically high amount of change since the team beat Arizona State in the Las Vegas Bowl on December 30.

With several new coaches on the staff, and multiple retained coaches shifting responsibilities, All Badgers will spend the next week providing an overview of each position coach on head coach Paul Chryst's coaching staff.

After profiling defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard and offensive coordinator Bobby Engram earlier this week, we now shift our focus to the position coaches. Up first, cornerback coach Hank Poteat.

Name: Hank Poteat

Role: Cornerbacks coach

Hometown: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

High school: Harrisburg High School

Alma mater: Pittsburgh

Years at Wisconsin: Hank Poteat is entering his second season on the Wisconsin coaching staff.

Previous coaching experience: After a long career in the NFL, Poteat began his coaching career at Division II Kentucky Christian as a defensive backs coach for two seasons. He would follow that up by taking a graduate assistant role under Paul Chryst at Pittsburgh before earning a full-time gig as the cornerback's coach at Kent State in 2015. After two seasons at Kent State, he would take a similar role at Toledo for three years, helping guide them to a MAC Championship in 2017. Poteat joined Paul Chryst's coaching staff at Wisconsin in 2021 as an assistant coach for the Badgers. 

Playing career: After a decorated high school career, Poteat went on to play for the Pittsburgh Panthers in the college. He was a multi-year starter in the late 1990s and was a first-team All-Big East pick as a junior and senior at cornerback. Also a talented punt and kick returner, he was a third-round pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers and would go on to play in the NFL for ten years. Throughout his career, Poteat played for the Steelers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New England Patriots, New York Jets, and Cleveland Browns.

Some of the notable highlights from his time in the NFL include making the all-rookie team as a punt returner in 2000 and later winning a Super Bowl with the New England Patriots.

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As a recruiter: Poteat recruits the cornerback position nationally for the Badgers, but he also has ties to the states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey as a recruiter. So far, some of his biggest recruiting wins include New Jersey cornerback A'Khoury Lyde and Texas DB Avyonne Jones in the 2022 cycle and Texas cornerback A.J. Tisdell in the 2023 class. Additionally, Poteat played a major role in adding Toledo graduate transfer Justin Clark, who is originally from Michigan and previously played for Poteat with the Rockets.

It is still very early in Poteat's tenure with the Badgers, but he seems to be a plus recruiter at this stage, and he has shown a willingness to hit the transfer portal hard when necessary.

Coaching trends: Hank Poteat works very closely with Wisconsin defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard, who previously oversaw the entire defensive backfield before Poteat's hiring.

Poteat inherited an experienced group of cornerbacks a year ago, but starters Faion Hicks and Caesar Williams appeared to grow under his tutelage. The Wisconsin defense was one of the best in the entire country last season, and the secondary was great against the pass. The secondary's ability to make plays and generate turnovers improved as the season went on, which is indicative of good coaching.

Overall, Poteat did not rotate his cornerbacks as much as we had seen under Leonhard in the past. This most likely stems from Hicks and Williams being established starters. The position group showed flashes this spring and it will be interesting to see how well the new-look room plays in 2022.

Three miscellaneous facts:

  • His son, Tre Poteat, is one of the top players in the state of Wisconsin for the 2025 recruiting class, and recently earned an offer from the Badgers after a stellar camp performance.
  • Poteat has overseen the development of three current NFL players: Ka’dar Hollman from his time at Toledo, and Wisconsin cornerback Faion Hicks and Caesar Williams. Both Hollman and Hicks were NFL Draft picks.
  • Hank Poteat actually began his career at Pittsburgh as a running back before switching to play cornerback after his first two seasons in the program. 

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