Oklahoma defensive backs coach Kerry Cooks has had a goal ever since taking over the spot two years ago.
He wants depth. Not just in numbers, but actual championship depth heading into his third season in Norman. In order for the future to be bright for the Sooners, Cooks is going back to his past.
Cooks is bringing back the “NASDAQ system,” which is exactly what you think it means. He’s playing the stock market with the defensive backs in Norman right now. Sometimes your stock is high, sometimes it’s low. The idea is simple – to continue breeding competition on a daily basis.
“Each day, we'll go in, myself and Marcus Walker, and we'll grade their production,” Cooks said. “They're either moving up or they're moving down based on how many PBU's, interceptions that you made, how many ME's (mental errors), how many deep balls you gave up, things like that.
“And the kids have actually had a lot of fun with it. This is the first year that we've done that, but the depth chart as moved. I know that you guys haven't been here throughout all of our practices, but it's been (Parnell) Motley one day, it's been Jordan (Thomas) one day.”
Last year’s methods didn’t exactly knock it out of the park for the Sooners at defensive back as it took the group a long while to find their rhythm. Cooks said it has been like 10 years since he’s used this system but said it’s getting through to his group.
That’s all that matters.
“You've got to find things that are really relatable to those guys and make it fun for those guys while at the same time getting them to understand that it is a job,” Cooks said. “It is a business so we're all trying to progress and move forward and have one common goal of winning at the same time making it fun and keeping it interesting with those guys.”
Keep it interesting and keep it honest because it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. There are the good elements of it, but there are the constructive criticism parts that go into the system as well.
There’s a day where Cooks will want to buy the stock, sell the stock, but the nobody wants to be the guy wearing that No. 00 jersey.
“You see we've got a 00 out here,” Cooks said. “That goes to the player with the lowest production throughout the week so you just do different things like that to make it fun for those guys. But at the same time, make it a competition and, you know, the best man is going to win.
“So that adds competition so the guys get out here and they know they're thinking in the back of my mind that I definitely don't want that 00 jersey. So I want to make sure that I'm busting my tail and doing everything right to get my production as high as I can get it.”
It’s keeping people on their toes. At a spot like defensive back, competition should always be a main factor of what’s going on. But when you have a guy like senior Jordan Thomas, it’s easy for guys behind him to get discouraged and for Thomas to become complacent.
He’s the starter so it doesn’t matter what he does in spring. System doesn’t reward you for seniority, doesn’t reward you for experience. It’s a daily battle of showing you deserve to be in the rotation, that you’re going to deserve to be on the field during the 2017 season.
“There's all kind of sells and buys and holds all the time and we talk and keep it real with them, but we use that because everybody understands the stock market,” Cooks said. “But they also understand you've got to come out here every day and earn it. If you don't come out here and you're off your game one day, we can't have that. There's ten other guys depending on you so you've got to keep your stock rising constantly.”
We’ve had sharks in Norman for the defensive backs. Wolves has been the latest moniker for the group. Now? It’s about playing the stock market.