CHARLOTTESVILLE — Junior cornerback Chase Minnifield, who has all three of UVa’s interceptions this season, has seven picks for his college career.
As a boy growing up in Lexington, Ky., Minnifield did not focus on one sport. He played baseball and basketball, as well as football. The time he spent on the diamond — he played center field — has helped him in the secondary, Minnifield believes.
“Just because of how hard it is to play baseball, to be able to hit the baseball and to be able to catch the baseball out in the outfield,” Minnifield said Monday at John Paul Jones Arena. “It’s probably one of the hardest things to do. It just helps in general with your eye-and-hand coordination.”
Junior wideout Kris Burd, UVa’s leading receiver, will attest to that. He played baseball at Matoaca High.
Count Anthony Poindexter in too. A former All-America safety for UVa, Poindexter was no one-sport wonder at Jefferson Forest High. He was good enough in baseball to be drafted by the Florida Marlins in 1994.
Did those skills help him in the secondary?
“No doubt,” said Poindexter, now the safeties coach and special-teams coordinator at UVa. “I think it helps any kid. If you play baseball, you can track the ball in the air and you can judge the flight of the ball. A lot of kids are not playing baseball now. Everybody’s trying to be one-sport guys. When you’re looking for safeties, you’re looking for guys that’s maybe played center field or right field or somewhere out there in baseball where they can track a ball.”
The “Virginia Football: The Building of a Program” series highlighted Minnifield’s athletic ability. At various times he was shown playing basketball — the 6-0 Minnifield dunks with ease — playing golf with his father, former NFL cornerback Frank Minnifield, and training for football.
Poindexter, 34, was featured, too. One episode of the series showed him playing in a softball game this summer.
“I looked pretty good going around that base till I slipped, didn’t I?” Dex said with a smile.