Cooks Completes Texas Tech Staff as Safeties Coach

Kerry Cooks arrives in Lubbock following four seasons at the University of Oklahoma


LUBBOCK, Texas – Texas Tech head coach Matt Wells announced the completion of his inaugural coaching staff Friday with the hiring of veteran defensive backs coach Kerry Cooks as safeties coach.

Cooks arrives in Lubbock after spending the previous nine seasons at Oklahoma (2015-18) and Notre Dame (2010-14) where he was part of a BCS National Championship game with the Fighting Irish and three appearances in the College Football Playoff semifinals with the Sooners.

Overall, Cooks has coached in a bowl game in 14 of his 15 seasons at the collegiate level, with the lone exception coming in 2004 when he was the defensive backs coach and assistant special teams coordinator at Western Illinois. He has been part of bowl teams in each of the past 13 seasons.

Oklahoma claimed the Big 12 title in each of Cooks’ four seasons overseeing the defensive backs as his group ranked near the top of the Big 12 in several passing categories. The Sooners led the Big 12 in fewest passing yards allowed in 2015 after surrendering only 202.8 yards per game through the air. Cooks also served as the assistant defensive coordinator each of his final three seasons in Norman.

Zack Sanchez powered the Sooners during the 2015 season, ranking second nationally with 0.6 interceptions per game en route to being recognized as a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award. Sanchez was also named a second team All-American by the likes of The Sporting NewsUSA Today and Walter Camp Foundation.

Sanchez was selected in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers, becoming the latest in a long line of defensive backs to join the league under Cooks. His list of NFL protégés also includes five Notre Dame players in first rounder Harrison Smith (2012) as well as Robert Blanton (2012), Jamoris Slaughter (2013), Zeke Motta (2013) and Bennett Jackson (2014) and one player – Chris Maragos (2010) – from his four-year tenure at Wisconsin.

Notre Dame consistently boasted one of the nation’s top pass defenses under Cooks as the Fighting Irish ranked 15th among FBS teams with 16 interceptions during his final season in 2014. Notre Dame was also 15th in the FBS for pass defense (198.2 yards per game) in 2013 and 25th in the category (200.2 yards per game) in 2012.

The 2012 team featured a stingy defense through the air, ranking second nationally in yards per completion (9.95) and sixth with only 11 touchdown passes allowed en route to an appearance in the BCS National Championship game.

Cooks joined the Notre Dame staff as the outside linebackers coach in 2010 before sliding over to oversee the cornerbacks room a year later. He was promoted to co-defensive coordinator for the 2012-13 campaigns where he began coaching the entire defensive backs group.

Cooks moved to Notre Dame after serving as the defensive backs coach and assistant special teams coordinator at Wisconsin from 2006-09. The Badgers, who were 38-14 during that span with four bowl appearances, led the nation in pass efficiency defense during Cooks’ first season on staff, while also ranking second in passing defense after allowing only 138.3 yards per game through the air. Opponents completed only 47.8 percent of their passing attempts against the Badgers that season.

Cooks arrived in Madison following one season at Big Ten counterpart, Minnesota, where the Golden Gophers ranked second in the conference after limiting opponents to a 55.3 completion percentage. It was the second full-time position for Cooks, who spent one season as a graduate assistant at Kansas State in 2003 prior to his role at Western Illinois.

Cooks was himself a standout defensive back at the University of Iowa where he was a team captain and an All-Big Ten selection as a senior in 1997. He was selected in the fifth round of the 1998 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings, the first stop in a professional career that also featured stints with the Green Bay Packers, Atlanta Falcons and Jacksonville Jaguars. He was a member of the XFL’s Chicago Enforcers during the league’s lone season in 2001.

Cooks, a native of Irving, Texas, and his wife Elvem are the parents of two daughters, Kerrington and Kenadee.


2019-Present – Texas Tech Assistant Coach (XXXX)

2016-Present – Oklahoma Assistant Defensive Coordinator (Defensive Backs)

2015 – Oklahoma Assistant Coach (Defensive Backs)

2014 – Notre Dame Assistant Coach (Defensive Backs)

2012-13 – Notre Dame Co-Defensive Coordinator (Defensive Backs)

2011 – Notre Dame Assistant Coach (Cornerbacks)

2010 – Notre Dame Assistant Coach (Outside Linebackers)

2006-09 – Wisconsin Assistant Coach (Defensive Backs/Asst. Special Teams)

2005- Minnesota Assistant Coach (Defensive Backs)

2004 – Western Illinois Assistant Coach (Defensive Backs/Asst. Special Teams)

2003 – Kansas State Graduate Assistant


Matt Dowdy

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