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Anthony Poindexter gives early thoughts on Penn State's safeties

Comparing new Penn State safeties coach Anthony Poindexter in his playing days to the headliner inside the Nittany Lions' safeties room, Jaquan Brisker, might be a fruitless endeavor.

The game was different back in the late 1990's when Poindexter roamed the secondary. The film from that era is grainy, and details can wash out of memories over time. Poindexter was a two-time All-American and is a recent inductee to the College Football Hall of Fame.

There is one undeniable parallel to be drawn, though.

Both Brisker and Poindexter had the opportunity to leave for the professional ranks with a year of eligibility remaining. Both left the money on the table to return to college for another season.

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New Penn State safeties coach Anthony Poindexter gave his thoughts on Jaquan Brisker and the rest of the Nittany Lions' safeties

"I think first off, by Brisker staying, it goes to the culture that coach [James] Franklin has in place here," Poindexter said Monday. "When I made that decision to stay in school, I loved college. I didn't really want to leave college. I was comfortable in college.

"I knew the money that I was turning down, but I was just having fun in college, so obviously Brisker must be feeling the same way. He could have left.

"I think he's coming back for all the right reasons. He loves his teammates. He wants to be a college player again. He's been awesome. He has no ego. He's humble. He wants to learn. He's always asking me questions."

Poindexter, and just about every other person of a Penn State persuasion, will be glad that Brisker stayed.

Pro Football Focus ranked Brisker as the third-best safety last season among Power 5 players who played at least 300 snaps. He was an elite tackler on a defense that was often criticized for its poor tackling — a crucial part of any success Penn State had stopping the run.

It's understandably difficult for Poindexter to know exactly what he has in Brisker. He's been in town for less than two weeks and has only observed winter workouts. But, he's certainly equipped to offer his perspective on what the next steps are for Brisker as a player.

"Each year you get better as a player," Poindexter said. "I think the growth of being a great player last year, now he can come back in and it ain't so much schematics for him now. It's more of the nuances of how to play the play: I could have done this better if I would have solved this sooner. How do I want to attack this formation? How do I want to attack this receiver? It's all kinds of little nuances as you get older as a player."

Of course, Brisker isn't the only player that Poindexter will need to evaluate in the coming weeks.

He'll also get the chance to evaluate Jonathan Sutherland — a player he recruited during his time as an assistant coach at UConn.

"Sutherland is a wonderful kid," Poindexter said. "...What a great kid. For as good of a player as he is, he's an even better person, very smart and very intelligent."

Sutherland is one of a few players that is actually helping Poindexter right now as he tries to study up on Penn State's playbook and schemes.

"He's really getting me up to speed on how we run defense here," Poindexter said. "He's an awesome young man. I'm excited to work with him. What a pleasure to be around him every day."


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