Wilks has only been with Willingham one season - the 2004 one with Notre Dame - but he has already learned quickly the way Willingham wants his teams perceived, both on and off the field. "You are going to get a very disciplined, well-coached football team, guys that are going to go out and give one-hundred percent every play," Wilks said. "I think you are going to see a lot of improvment. Are we going to win the national championship or the Pac-10? I don't know. But I can tell you that you are going to get a very competitive football team each and every week."
With Wilks, the Huskies are not only getting a young, energetic coach on the rise. They are also getting a coach that, despite his tender age has been a coordinator and also a head coach at the collegiate level. "I believe in coaching the details, particularly at my position," he said when asked about his coaching style. "You have to be very detail and technique-oriented, so I consider myself a professor in the classroom.
"I also believe that players take on the identity of their coaches. The speed of the pack is determined by the speed of the leader. If you get a coach out there that's not going full-speed, you can expect those players probably won't go full-speed. I can promise you the first day you see me in spring practice, I'll be geared up and ready to go. The position that I coach, there's not a lot of room for error, so you have to be demanding in what you want and try to get it every time."
According to Wilks, they didn't 'get it' last year in South Bend. His secondary finished 116th out of 117 D1 teams in pass defense. "No, not at all. We had a very disappointing year in the standpoint that we sort of took it off during the latter part of the season," he said. "The biggest thing there is that we didn't finish it. We were in position to make plays but we didn't compete and make some of those plays we needed to make. I'm excited right now because I feel like we've got some guys at corner that can really give us an opportunity to do some things defensively that we weren't able to do last year, like playing more man. I'm encouraged by some of the things I've heard about the personnel that we have here."
But with a junior college cornerback like San Diego Mesa CB Keno Walter-White already committed and Pasadena CB Marlon Wood set to take a trip to Montlake, Wilks knows that he needs players that can make an impact right out of the gate. "I think the most important is to really find those skill guys that fit our package and fit our program. Corners are a need right now," he said.
And unlike the system employed by last year's defensive coordinator Phil Snow - Wilks will be in charge of all the defensive backs. "I consider all those guys to be of one heartbeat," he said. "That's the way I coached at Notre Dame and also at Bowling Green. I believe that when those guys all sit in one room and listen to one voice and are on one page together, I think that's a major plus."
Steven Wilks coaching resume:
Year School/Team Assignment 1995-1996 Johnson C. Smith Defensive Coordinator 1997-1998 Savannah State Defensive Coordinator 1999 Savannah State Head Coach 2000 Illinois State Defensive Backs 2001 Appalachian State Defensive Backs 2002 East Tennessee State Co-Defensive Coordinator 2003 Bowling Green State Defensive Backs 2004 Notre Dame Defensive Backs