When LSU head coach Brian Kelly began building his coaching staff, a household name was Kerry Cooks. He worked with Coach Kelly for six years during two separate stints with the Fighting Irish, and gained valuable experience in other important college programs during his career as a player and coach.
Product Nimitz from Arlington (Texas) signed with and played for Iowa (1994-1997) and was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the 1998 NFL Draft. After a short NFL career ( 1998; 2000-2001), as well as playing in the XFL (2001), Cooks became a coach soon after.
He started in his high school alma mater, Nimitz (2003), and went on to rise through the college ranks at Kansas State (2003) later that same year as a graduate assistant. His next move was to western Illinois (2004) where Coach Cooks secured his first coaching position as defensive backs and special teams coach. From there, he left a large imprint on coaching, as well as recruiting.
Coach Cooks has spent time recruiting for Minnesota (2005), Wisconsin (2006-2009), Notre Dame (2010-2014; 2020-2021), Oklahoma (2015-2018) and Texas Tech (2019).
To take a closer look at the actual hiring of cooks, LSU Country has a great introductory article to read and digest their overall experience:
LSU officially announces Kerry Cooks to defensive staff
As for recruitment, there are several points to note here. First of all, he is a very nice person. Anyone who’s met Coach Cooks will likely tell someone else that he’s down to earth, easy going, and hard to dislike. When it comes to geography, all of these different stops in college programs will help the Tigers on the recruiting path, as will his experience in Dallas, TX.
Arlington is a city located just 20 miles west of downtown Dallas. It is a part of one of the best high school football zones in the country. Coach Cooks lived there, played for Nimitz and was recruited there for almost 20 years.
He’s almost guaranteed to be posted to Dallas as his primary recruiting territory. LSU signed one Dallas-area player in 2018, two in 2019, one in 2020, and one in 2021.
The Tigers currently hold no commitments from a Texan prospect for 2022, and LSU fans can bet their last dollar that will change with Coach Cooks on LSU’s staff for the Class of 2023, if not the Class of 2022.
For clarification, there are two national signing days. The premiere will take place on December 15, this Wednesday. The second will take place on February 2, 2022, the first Wednesday of this month. Coach Cooks has plenty of time to attract a player to Baton Rouge from the Dallas-Fort Worth metro station and sign with LSU.
To that end, here are some other key pieces of Coach Cooks’ experience throughout the recruiting journey.
Having spent time in the state of Kansas, western Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Notre Dame, he will know the Midwest well. LSU isn’t suddenly going to attract five prospects from Chicago, but landing an elite prospect from the Midwest to complement the talents of Louisiana and Dixie in general will be welcome.
This is certainly an achievable goal for any given recruiting class. He also spent time visiting prospects across the country while recruiting for Notre Dame, a program that is still being recruited nationwide. From California to Virginia, Coach Cooks has been on numerous home visits with prominent soccer rookies.
There is another category to consider as well, and it could be the most valuable as LSU has expanded its recruiting efforts far beyond Louisiana and the neighboring states adjacent to Louisiana over the past decade.
Coach Cooks understands the assessment process and versatility quite well. For example, in 2012 Notre Dame signed KeiVarae Russell of Everett (Wash.) Mariner. He was planning on playing the running back for the Irish, but ended up being a cornerback due to a premature cornerback injury to a veteran Notre Dame player.
Coach Cooks, along with Kelly, understood that Russell’s overall worth included playing multiple positions. In fact, the cornerback was a position that was approved for Russell, as was the running back as he was signed by the Irish.
Russell quickly took the starting cornerback position at South Bend and helped Notre Dame to an unbeaten regular season.
Finding and often directly training these versatile athletes is something Coach Cooks has been doing at every stop. This will be a great asset to his new venture with the LSU Football program.
Overall, Coach Cooks has recruiting experience in some critical areas like Dallas, as well as a good knowledge of states across the country. He’s going to be a real asset to LSU’s recruiting efforts.