"I have known Kerry for many years now and I'm very excited to have him join us at Wisconsin," Bielema said in the release. "He exemplifies everything I want our staff to be about. He works hard, he's a great recruiter and coach, and he's a fantastic person on and off the field. I'm very happy he is a Badger."
Cooks' official hiring—reports of it began to surface early last week—comes one day after incumbent wide receivers coach Henry Mason was rehired by Bielema.
Minnesota's pass defense struggled in 2005. The Gophers were eighth in the Big Ten in pass efficiency defense (131.4) and ninth in pass defense (257.1 yards per game). They gave up 19 touchdowns and snagged eight interceptions.
Cooks, though, did a respectable job with a troubled unit. In 2004, the Gophers were ranked No. 109 in the nation and No. 11 in the Big Ten in pass defense, allowing 266.0 yards per game. And the 2005 unit had to replace two starters, including 2004 All-Big Ten corner Ukee Dozier.
At Wisconsin Cooks will be able to work with a developing secondary coming off a strong performance against Auburn in the Capital One Bowl. The Badgers lose senior cornerbacks Levonne Rowan and Brett Bell. But redshirt freshman corners Allen Langford and Jack Ikegwuonu, who started a combined 12 games in 2005, and every safety in the depth—including starters Roderick Rogers and Joe Stellmacher—return.
Cooks was a four-year letter winner and two-year starter as a strong safety at Iowa from 1994-97, during which time Bielema was a Hawkeye assistant coach. The two have long been close friends. Cooks was Iowa's captain as a senior, when he earned All-Big Ten honors. A fifth-round draft choice of the Minnesota Vikings in 1998, Cooks also played for Green Bay, Atlanta and Jacksonville before retiring from the NFL in 2001. He also played for the Chicago Enforcers of the XFL in 2001.
Cooks began coaching at his high school alma mater, Nimitz (Irving, Texas), in 2003 before joining the staff at Kansas State as a graduate assistant that same year, when Bielema was co-defensive coordinator with the Wildcats. While at Kansas State, Cooks worked mostly with defensive game plan preparation and assisted with the Wildcats' secondary. Kansas State registered an 11-4 record in 2003 and won a Big 12 title with a defense that was sixth nationally in total defense, eighth in scoring defense, 12th in pass efficiency defense and 17th in rushing defense. The Wildcats earned a trip to the Fiesta Bowl after limiting each of their last six opponents to 14 points or less, including Oklahoma, the nation's highest-scoring team that season.
Cooks spent the 2004 season as the defensive backs coach at Western Illinois. Under Cooks' direction, the Leathernecks limited opponents to a Gateway Conference-best 157.2 passing yards per game and to the lowest completion percentage (45.4) in the league. They finished second in the conference with 17 interceptions.
Cooks earned a bachelor's degree in sociology from Iowa in 2000. Cooks' wife's name is Valencia.