Cooks, Simmons gear up for big OU weekend

Welcome to OU, Kerry Cooks and Dennis Simmons. First chance to make big splash? Junior day on Sunday.

In the recent years, the tradition has been for Oklahoma to hold its first junior day the Saturday before national signing day.

The Sooners, who are going through so many coaching changes, opted to wait this time around as the first installment is set for Sunday afternoon in Norman.

Where some coaching issues have been cleared up, a major one opened up this week when newly promoted co-defensive coordinator Jerry Montgomery left Tuesday to take a defensive quality control spot with the Green Bay Packers.

The spotlight won’t be on defensive linemen this weekend at junior day. Instead, the focus is going to be squarely on wide receiver and defensive back.

Welcome to OU, Dennis Simmons and Kerry Cooks. Simmons and Cooks were both officially announced as OU assistant coaches Monday evening. Simmons will take over at the receiver position, while Cooks is going to lead the secondary.

Simmons’ last stop was at Washington State so he’s well versed in the Air Raid offensive style of attack, while Cooks had been running the show in the secondary for Notre Dame since 2010.

“Coming from a place like Notre Dame, I wanted to be able to recruit and teach at a high level,” Cooks said. “Obviously a place like OU allows me to do that.”

It brings Cooks much closer to home. A graduate of Irving (Texas) Nimitz, he’s now right in his wheelhouse. Cooks did a great job of making the Irish a player in the Dallas Metroplex and that influence should only increase now he’s in Norman.

Cooks has known OU running backs and special teams coach Jay Boulware since the two were in elementary school and is another in a long line of Iowa graduates.

“It’s a chance to work with one of the trendsetters in this business – Bob Stoops,” Cooks said. “One thing they’re going to get from me is making sure they’re disciplined.”

The bulk of Sunday’s confirmed visitors are defensive backs and wide receivers. A few offers are coming to town and definitely the potential for a few more to be issued Sunday afternoon.

The same can be said at receiver. Simmons is going to be the outside receivers coach, while Cale Gundy is being moved from being the running backs coach to the inside receivers coach.

No confirmed receiver offers are coming to Norman on Sunday, but there are several worthy candidates making the trip.

“I’m about the up tempo, attacking style,” Simmons said. “I’m going to make the defense account for all five skill guys.”

Simmons has worked with offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley in the past at Texas Tech and said he knows what he’s bringing to the table.

“It’s about consistency,” Simmons said. “Finding out exactly what their goals are and being consistent with them on a daily basis.”

Montgomery’s departure leaves a huge gap right now for OU and its fans. The good news is Cooks and Simmons are both considered quality hires.

The best way to forget about lamenting about the loss is to get some wins. The first test for Cooks and Simmons comes this weekend.

OU only has one commitment heading into the weekend in North Mesquite (Texas) High Scout 150 offensive tackle Jean Delance. We’ll see if that number changes after this weekend and if Cooks or Simmons play a role in that happening.

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