The year was 2013, toward the end of his coaching days at Virginia, and Anthony Poindexter had just been nominated for the College Football Hall of Fame for the first time.
He walked into the kitchen at the UVa football office, where he was greeted by his former college coach, George Welsh, then in retirement. Welsh had been inducted into the hall of fame in 2004.
“Coach [Welsh] was in the kitchen, as he normally was,” Poindexter, now the co-defensive coordinator at Purdue, recounted. “It was the first time I had been on the ballot and he said, ‘You’re not going to get in this time, but you’re going to get in.’ ”
Welsh was indeed right. The announcement came Wednesday.
Probably the highest profile member of the class is Pro Football Hall of Fame member Eric Dickerson from SMU. Former Heisman winner Eric Crouch from Nebraska and the late Steve McNair from Alcorn State, who led the Tennessee Titans to Super Bowl XXXIV, are also among the class of 17 players and two coaches.
The other inductees announced by the National Football Foundation include Florida offensive lineman Lomas Brown, Ohio State running back Keith Byars, LSU defensive lineman Glenn Dorsey, Michigan offensive lineman Jumbo Elliott, Washington State kicker Jason Hanson, Maryland linebacker E.J. Henderson, Alabama linebacker E.J. Junior, UCLA quarterback Cade McNown, Oklahoma State defensive lineman Leslie O’Neal, Minnesota defensive end Bob Stein, Colorado receiver Michael Westbrook, Houston receiver Elmo Wright and Georgia defensive end David Pollack, who is now a prominent college football analyst on ESPN.
The two coaches selected for induction are Dick Sheridan, who coached at Furman and North Carolina State, and longtime Villanova coach Andy Tally.
Poindexter, a graduate of Jefferson Forest High School, was a two-time All-American safety at UVa in 1997-98. He was previously elected into the VHSL Hall of Fame in 2013.
“I took [Welsh’s] word [on my prospects,] and 15 or 16 years later, I’m getting in,” Poindexter said. “I talked to his daughter [Thursday] and we had a long conversation. She said that one of the last conversations her and Coach had was about me getting into the hall of fame.”
Welsh died Jan. 2, 2019. He is one of three former UVa coaches enshrined, along with Earle “Greasy” Neale and Frank Murray.
“It’s kind of neat, his face right there alongside me,” said Poindexter, who will be the fifth player from UVa to be enshrined.
The announcement took place Wednesday, which helped explain a mystery of sorts Tuesday night at the Poindexter home.
“There was a box at the door,” Poindexter said, “and my wife brought it inside. My son opened it, as if he got something. He opened it part of the way and said it was some kind of football.
“They put a note in there that said to keep it quiet until they had an announcement at noon. I’m like, ‘OK, I’ll open it up,’ but I have a lot of friends that might prank me.”
Hall of fame officials were careful not to tell the new members of their selection, with ESPN host Rece Davis alerting Pollack, a former University of Georgia lineman who now works at ESPN, on SportsCenter at noon.
“He walked out with the ball,” Poindexter said, “and I was thinking, ‘It must be real because that’s the same ball I got.’ ”
The latest class for the Atlanta-based hall will be inducted Dec. 8 at the NFF’s awards dinner in New York.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.