Still Counting on Wisconsin

Kerry Cooks is long gone from Madison, but the in roads he created to the East Coast are still there for the Badgers, a main reason Our Lady Good Counsel cornerback Blake Countess is still interested in Wisconsin. But if UW is going to get his commitment, they will have to wage a recruiting battle with a familiar face.

MADISON - Leaving his position at Wisconsin to take on a higher-profile job at Notre Dame, Kerry Cooks did the noble thing of not picking up the phone to offer the two Maryland athletes – Robby Havenstein and Frank Tamakloe – he spent so much time recruiting to the Badgers.

Don't think for a second though that he isn't pushing hard for the 2011 kids to have a change of heart.

Since leaving, Cooks is still actively recruiting the East Coast and is extending Notre Dame offers to the same prospects he gave UW scholarships to. One of those athletes is Blake Countess, a 5-foot-10, 180-pound safety that finished last season with 50 tackles, 20 pass breakups and a kick return for a touchdown.

"It's changes slightly only because he switched positions," Countess told Badger Nation about the change in his relationship with Cooks. "At Wisconsin, he was the defensive backs coach, so he would have been coaching me, but now he is coaching the linebackers. He's not going to be coaching me, but you still have to met your position coach before you make a decision, so that doesn't bother me too much. (Cooks is) also one of the first coaches I ever started talking to. We've built a real strong relationship over the summer."

That relationship dates back almost a year, when Cooks first stepped foot on the high school camps of Our Lady Good Counsel in search of recruits. There he saw Countess and found safety Frank Tamakloe, a member of Wisconsin's 2010 recruiting class. Although Cooks has moved on, Countess' interest in Madison is still there.

"Oh yeah, definitely," Countess said if he's still interested in UW. "Definitely."

While the Badgers are still ironing out recruiting areas for Greg Jackson to cover, Countess has been in contact with Head Coach Bret Bielema, who has twice been to Good Counsel to visit with Tamakloe and Countess.

"They aren't really allowed to say much, but he just wanted to give us a heads up and wanted me to come out and see the campus," Countess said of Bielema. "He said he would be in contact, but they have been sending me a lot of mail, hand-written letters and stuff like that. Interest is picking up with Wisconsin."

Countless has yet to visit Wisconsin, but plans to make a visit before he makes his final decision.

"I am definitely going to look into Madison," Countess said.

Countess also has to look at Notre Dame (who he was supposed to visit for Junior Day until a track meet got in the way), Georgia Tech (he's aiming for the Yellow Jackets spring game in late April) and possibly Clemson as tour strops in the next couple weeks.

"Spring break is coming up, so I get to some schools so I can get an inkling of my favorites," he said. "I don't have anything planned, but all I know is that I have no favorites, and that I am still taking it in."

Currently, Countess has offers from Arkansas, Cincinnati, Illinois, Louisville, Maryland, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, West Virginia and Wisconsin ("It's just an honor, everything up to this point," he said) and the schools that are after him have offered him as a cornerback.

"I just like to stay aggressive," Countess said. "If you want to be aggressive, you have to think that the ball is yours. At corner, a person has to have the mentality of being a cornerback and shutting down the receiver. I think I have that mentality."

Fresh off winning a Maryland state championship, Countess has stayed hungry on the track scene. Competing in the 100- and 200-yard dash along with the 4x100 and 4x200 relay, Countess has seen his 4.47 40-time and 3.95 shuttle time start to decrease, as the added workload and training is paying off.

"I have some speed," Countess said. "Track is just accentuating what I already have, so I am trying to focus on strides and knee lifts to make me quicker on the football field. Coming out of the blocks has helped me a lot and the coaches have been helping me work on trying to build my strength."

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