The Bears were also considering former St. Louis Rams assistant secondary coach Gill Byrd. Smith ultimately decided on Wilks to replace Perry Fewell, who took the defensive coordinator position with the Buffalo Bills.
Wilks is an 11-year college coaching veteran, who becomes the third different man to coach the secondary in as many seasons. The post will be his ninth different job in as many years. He spent last season with the Washington Huskies, after being one of just three assistants that coach Tyrone Willingham brought with him from Notre Dame, where he also spent one season.
"I'm real excited about the opportunity, not just the chance to coach in the NFL but the opportunity to be able to come here and be a part of the Bears organization and most importantly work with Lovie Smith and the defensive coaches," Wilks said on the team website.
"Coach Willingham is a great man of integrity. He's a good football coach and someone that I definitely learned a lot from. I think Lovie is the same kind of individual. He's someone that I can learn a lot from, so I'm excited about that."
While Wilks takes over a secondary with Pro Bowlers CB Nathan Vasher and S Mike Brown, there are still questions about the unit. Jerry Azumah is not expected to return as an unrestricted free agent. The group accounted for 20 of the team's 24 interception in 2005, but had a poor showing the playoff loss to the Carolina Panthers.
The official announcement of Wilks hiring comes less than a week before players begin to arrive at the NFL scouting combine. The full focus of the team will now shift toward the draft and free agency. There's a chance that Wilks will have a first day draft pick to work with when the team opens mini-camp in May.
The 36 year old also has experience as a head coach and defensive coordinator in college.
Wilks previous coaching experience
A defensive back at Appalachian State from 1987-91, Wilks recorded 103 career tackles with four interceptions and four blocked kicks. He went to training camp with the Seattle Seahawks in 1992 and played for the Charlotte Rage of the Arena Football League in 1993 as a defensive back and wide receiver.