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Former Virginia assistant Danny Wilmer all in on Anthony Poindexter

Anthony Poindexter
Anthony Poindexter. Photo courtesy UVA Athletics.

The first thing former University of Virginia assistant football coach Danny Wilmer remembers about Anthony Poindexter isn’t his ferocious hitting skills or his charismatic personality. Wilmer said it was Poindexter’s work ethic that stood out the most.

“Anthony was the most talented player on the field his entire career at UVA, but he didn’t let that stand in his way,” mused Wilmer. And Wilmer knows a thing or two about hard work. He was known as a relentless recruiter on the staff of Virginia coach George Welsh for all but two years of Welsh’s Virginia career.

Wilmer, speaking from his Fluvanna County farm, said he thought the time was perfect to bring one of “Virginia’s own” back home.

“I’ve known Anthony since his early high school days. He hasn’t changed much since then, great kid, with all the skills in the world, but still the hardest worker on the field every day, every play,” noted Wilmer.

“Anthony had the respect from every player on the team, from the top running back to the third-string punter,” noted Wilmer. “He was a two-year team captain. That hasn’t happened much at Virginia,” added Wilmer.

Some recent health issues have sidelined Wilmer a bit, but he’s on the mend and has kept up with Virginia football as much as his health has allowed.

“I try to keep up with the program. My former players do a great job of staying in contact with me. Those guys are special people. I’m so proud of how successful they have become, in and out of football,” noted Wilmer.

Wilmer first heard the news that Bronco Mendenhall will step down from the job at Virginia following the team’s bowl game from watching a television report.

Was Wilmer surprised? “Yeah, a little, well, maybe not. Heck, coaching and recruiting was terribly stressful when I was coaching, I can’t imagine what it must be like today.”

When the conversation turned to what direction the Virginia football program goes in next, Wilmer didn’t hold back on Poindexter.

“I will say this, hiring Anthony will give Virginia football its identity back, make no mistake about that,” proclaimed Wilmer. “He came to Charlottesville and UVA to get a degree and then play football, not the opposite.”

Virginia fans remember Poindexter as the junior All-American in 1997 who elected to return and finish his degree in 1998 instead of entering the NFL draft.

They also remember that fateful late-season game in Scott Stadium in 1998 against NC State. Poindexter made a tackle on Wolfpack wide receiver Chris Coleman, but he landed awkwardly, twisting his left leg and suffered a complete tear of his ACL as well as two other ligaments.

The Scott Stadium crowd watched in horror as Poindexter was carried off the field. Wilmer all too well remembers that afternoon.

“No doubt the worst moment in my football coaching career, to watch that happen to Anthony,” said Wilmer, his voice still crackling.

“I will tell you this as well, I was crying my eyes out on the sideline, and I wasn’t the only coach in tears,” noted Wilmer.

Poindexter went from a sure-bet first round pick to a seventh-round afterthought pickup by the Baltimore Ravens in the draft.

Poindexter’s decision to return to UVA for his final season has never been one he has regretted. Having had an opportunity to speak with Poindexter numerous times since his playing days, his belief is that returning to Virginia for his senior season made him an even better person today.

One thing for certain, Wilmer knows a thing or two about Virginia football, he knows the players that helped George Welsh achieve legendary status around Charlottesville, giving football an identity at UVA, and he thinks it’s time to return the program to that identity.

Story by Scott German

augusta free press
augusta free press