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Poindexter Returns to the Secondary -- as Coach

By Zach Berman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 26, 2009

CHARLOTTESVILLE -- After the 2005 season, Virginia Coach Al Groh needed to hire a defensive backs coach. His running backs coach, Anthony Poindexter, was one of the most accomplished defensive backs in the program's history, but Groh did not consider Poindexter for the opening, instead hiring veteran assistant Steve Bernstein.

In December 2008, Groh searched for Bernstein's replacement. This time, Poindexter was the ideal candidate. Groh offered Poindexter the post, and Poindexter happily accepted.

"At that point, I probably wasn't ready for that kind of responsibility yet," Poindexter said. "Two more years of coaching, I'm ready to take on the responsibility of doing it."

Poindexter emphasized that his status as a former standout in the secondary does not automatically make him a good defensive backs coach, and that he needed to prepare for the new job.

He has turned to Groh, former Virginia assistants Bernstein and Bob Pruett, and current Virginia linebackers coach Bob Trott for guidance. Each offered dozens of years of experience.

"I played it," Poindexter said, "but I ain't coached it."

Luckily, Poindexter inherited the team's best unit. He said his job is not to "mess them up." Most of the players do not remember Poindexter as a player at Virginia from 1994 to 1998 -- "These boys were born in the '90s, man!" he said -- but they visited his home during training camp and wanted to watch old game film.

Poindexter, 33, has left his career in Groh's hands. He played for former Virginia coach George Welsh -- not Groh -- but was friends with Groh's son, Mike Groh, who recommended Poindexter. Al Groh hired Poindexter as a graduate assistant in 2003 after Poindexter retired from the NFL.

His entire career has been with Virginia, and he said he could not imagine wearing another team's shirt while recruiting. Poindexter scouts the Washington region and said the area -- and the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference in particular -- is a prime target for the Cavaliers.

"Most of these kids are two, two and a half hours from us," Poindexter said. "So when you get into that area, it ain't like they're going that far from home. So we try to go there, but we got to find the guys that fit into our program. All of them don't fit, but we found some guys in the D.C. Catholic league that fit our system, fit what we like to do, and fit our school and the people, too."

Delayed Scrimmage

A lightning storm halted Virginia's scheduled scrimmage on Saturday, postponing the best opportunity for the coaches to configure the depth chart. The Cavaliers scrimmaged Tuesday, and Groh expects the final spots to be determined soon leading to the Sept. 5 opener against William & Mary. . . . Wide receiver Dontrelle Inman, a junior with 19 career catches, has been limited because of an injury throughout training camp and has slipped down the depth chart.

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