Hank Poteat takes over cornerback room, transition to Iowa State

Wisconsin coaches Jim Leonhard, left, Hank Poteat and Alvah Hansbro are shown before their game against Illinois State Saturday, September 3, 2022 at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis.

Iowa State football coach Matt Campbell and Toledo coach Jason Candle are good friends off of the football field.

It’s made the transition of Iowa State’s new cornerbacks coach in Hank Poteat much easier, as he moves into a position room entirely of players he hasn’t coached before.

“The transition for me has been good,” Poteat said. “Just coaching at Toledo, and how coach Campbell and coach Jason Candle at Toledo are good friends, so the programs are ran pretty similar. Just being here in this environment and with these coaches, it feels like home with all the similarities.”

Poteat spent his last two seasons as cornerbacks coach with Wisconsin, where both of his full-time starters at the position ended up in the NFL. Before that, he was in the same position on the Toledo coaching staff.

After playing college ball at Pittsburgh, he was a third round draft pick in the 2000 NFL Draft before spending a decade in the league and spending time with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New England Patriots, New York Jets and Cleveland Browns.

That NFL experience is something he wants to utilize with cornerback T.J. Tampa, who opted to return to Iowa State for another season rather than enter the draft.

“Everything’s a teachable moment,” Poteat said. “Anything that I do with the whole group is really talking about my experiences – especially when I was in New England, Bill Bilichek challenges his players. I’m just trying to help (Tampa) understand the big picture of the game and understand situational football – just every little detail of the position that’s going to allow him to elevate his game and be able to take his game to the next level.”

It’s early in Poteat’s time at Iowa State, but one of the first things he noticed about Tampa was an aspect of leadership.

“Normally when I first come to a program, I always try to get a feel for who will everybody respond to in the room,” Poteat said. “He’s been a guy that people look up to and has earned the right to lead.”

That’s important for the role Poteat wants Tampa to take on.

“I make sure me and him communicate a lot, because he will be an extension of me when I’m not around being able to take leadership in that room,” Poteat said. “As he continues to get more comfortable with our room in that leadership role, it will allow him to be more confident when it comes to the whole team.”

As far as the rest of the room goes, Poteat mentioned a pair of redshirt freshmen that have stood out to him early.

Jontez Williams and Terrell Crosby each redshirted during the 2022 season and look to play their way onto the field in 2023.

“Jontez has done some walk-throughs and some individual (practice periods),” Poteat said. “He’s not full-go yet with team-type stuff, but like his footwork, and him wanting to learn and being able to retain information and different technicues. I like where he is.”

“I love the confidence in Terrell Crosby,” Poteat said. “He’s doing a good job. I like how he plays at his own tempo and he likes to compete. I talk to my guys every day about having that dog mentality and I like where he is right now, being a young guy.”

The transition for Poteat also comes in working with an entirely new coaching staff.

He’s getting his first practices working alongside defensive coordinator Jon Heacock.

“I love (working with Coach Heacock),” Poteat said. “He’s real detailed. Even when we sit through meetings, everyone talks through their positions and just learning the front and what the backers were doing. We’re just trying to get a feel for how everybody fits and why we’re doing certain things.”

It’s still early in the process of the 2023 college football season, but Poteat likes what he sees so far.

“As far as the first couple days of practice, I really like my guys. They’re eager to learn. (We’re) just continuing to work on discipline on technique but I really like their effort and how they go about their day-to-day to get better.”

Remaining Iowa State spring practice schedule
April 4 – Practice 6
April 6 – Practice 7
April 8 – Practice 8
April 11 – Practice 9
April 13 – Practice 10
April 15 – Practice 11
April 18 – Practice 12
April 20 – Practice 13
April 21 – Practice 14
April 22 – Iowa State Spring Game @ Jack Trice Stadium (11 a.m.)