On Thursday, Ross Dellenger of Yahoo Sports reported that Duke is hiring Penn State defensive coordinator Manny Diaz as its next head coach. Duke had a vacancy at the top after Mike Elko departed for Texas A&M.
Diaz spent two seasons at Happy Valley after he was fired from his first head coaching gig down at Miami. In those two years, he turned his unit into the very best in the country. In 2023, Penn State’s defense ranked No. 1 in total defense, No. 1 in yards per play, and No. 3 in points per game only giving up 11.4.
On top of losing Diaz, the Penn State defense will likely lose some serious talent, though not to a different school, to the NFL. Star edge rusher Chop Robinson has already declared for the 2024 NFL Draft and Kalen King and Adisa Isaac are likely to follow him.
Still, the Nittany Lions will have a talented group on that side of the ball, but the question is, who is going to coach them? Franklin already had to find a new offensive coordinator after firing Mike Yurcich and settled on the innovative Andy Kotelnicki from Kansas. Could he opt to stay in-house for the DC or is there a better option out there?
Poindexter is the most obvious option to step up and take the role. He has been at Penn State for three years and notably coach Ji’Ayir Brown and Jaquon Brisker to the NFL and had Kevin Winston Jr. and Jaylen Reed playing great on the backend of Penn State’s elite defense.
During his playing days, Poindexter was a hard-hitting safety at Virginia and was recently inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. In his 20 years as a coach, he has held either the title of DC or co-DC for nine years, and coordinated the defense at UConn for three seasons.
It feels like time for Poindexter to get a shot coordinating a defense at the highest level of college football, and continuity might be the most important thing for Penn State’s elite defense. If he doesn’t get the job then it might be tough to keep him on staff, but there are other options is Franklin doesn’t feel confident about a promotion.