Notre Dame must find a new safeties coach after Terry Joseph departed for Texas. Joseph coached the position for three seasons, but his track record as an on-field coach and recruiter was inconsistent at best.
Replacing Joseph becomes one of the first tasks for new defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman, but there is a coach already on campus that could not only handle the job, he would be an upgrade at the position on the field and on the recruiting trail.
That coach would be Kerry Cooks, the former cornerbacks coach (2010-11) and co-defensive coordinator (2012-14) at Notre Dame. Cooks spent the 2020 season as an analyst for Notre Dame, and he'd make a lot of sense to replace Joseph.
Joseph developed a reputation as a quality recruiter prior to his tenure in South Bend, but his track record at Notre Dame was spotty at best. Landing Kyle Hamilton was obviously a huge feather in his cap, but if we're being honest about that recruitment, the reality is the work done by Mike Elko and Todd Lyght had Notre Dame leading for Hamilton's services by the time Joseph was hired.
Notre Dame struck out completely at safety in the 2020 class, but the 2021 class was a quality one after the staff landed Justin Walters and Khari Gee. The subpar recruiting by Joseph and his inability to develop trust with the players on the roster is a big reason Notre Dame heads into the 2021 offseason with depth concerns at the position.
Cooks can coach, and he proved that during his first stop in South Bend and during his four years running the Wisconsin secondary prior to joining Brian Kelly's first Notre Dame staff.
Cooks developed into a strong recruiter during his tenure at Notre Dame, and he certainly knows what it takes to recruit at a high level for the Irish. That is very important in the next hire. What adds to his value is that Cooks learned how to recruit against Notre Dame, and he became a thorn in the side of the Irish staff during his four-year tenure at Oklahoma.
What this means is not only does Cooks know what it takes to land top players to Notre Dame, he knows exactly what allows other schools to beat Notre Dame for recruits. Having that kind of dual knowledge should allow him to be an even more effective recruiting his second time around, should Freeman and Kelly decide to fill the open safety spot with him.
Here's a list of some of the top recruits Cooks landed during his tenure at Notre Dame and Oklahoma (247Sports composite overallranking in parenthesis):
Davonte Neal, WR (4-star - No. 57)
Shaun Crawford, CB (4-star - No. 112)
Cole Luke, CB (4-star - No. 154)
Nick Watkins, CB (4-star - No. 182)
Devin Butler, CB (4-star - No. 318)
Jalen Guyton, WR (Currently starting for the LA Chargers)
Brendan Radley-Hiles, CB (4-star - No. 38)
Justin Broiles, S (4-star - No. 83)
Robert Barnes, S (4-star - No. 92)
Jordan Parker, CB (4-star - No. 153)
Jeremiah Criddell, S (4-star - No. 163)
Woodi Washington, CB (4-star - No. 189) - Rivals No. 51 overall player
Jaden Davis, CB (4-star - No. 222)
Parrish Cobb, CB (4-star - No. 289)
Cooks also beat Notre Dame for Tre Norwood, a three-star recruit who was a three-year starter for Oklahoma and recently declared for the NFL Draft.
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