Cooks set to start at linebacker for Pack

RENO - Fifty-two weeks. Three hundred sixty-five days. Twelve months.

Anyway you slice it, they all equal a year, and Nevada linebacker Roosevelt Cooks can tell you that a lot has changed since he stepped foot on the Nevada campus last summer.

The 5-11 220-pound senior linebacker became the proud father of a baby boy during the latter stages of last season, got married to his longtime girlfriend, Natalie, and made a successful position change from outside linebacker to inside linebacker.

"He's doing well; playing real well," Nevada linebacker coach Kenny Wilson said. "He'll start for us next week (against Washington State). He's come a long way.

"Last year he had no experience. He came to us a little out of shape. He's been with us all summer. He's a lot stronger, and he's learned how to move around."

Cooks admitted that after his sophomore season at Fresno City College, he didn't train much and gained 20 pounds.

"I just didn't train," Cooks said. "All I did is eat and lift weights. It (about 240) was the heaviest I've ever been."

Cooks played outside linebacker for the first time in his career, starting four games and racking up 37 tackles, including 7 1/2 stops behind the line which was sixth-best on the team.

Cooks' athleticism was easy to see. He's prospered at middle linebacker, which is his true position.

"He's probably the quickest linebacker we have," Wilson said. "He is one of the fastest I've coached. He has great feet and a great nose for the ball."

Cooks said when he was at Fresno City, he was faster than nearly everybody except for a cornberback or two, and that same holds true now.

"I'm probably one of the fastest (on defense) except for a cornerback and maybe a safety or two," he said.

Speed is what head coach Chris Ault has been looking for in his first two recruiting classes. Ault said the Pack isn't where he wants them to be yet, but that things have definitely improved.

Now that football season is well under way, Cooks is juggling a home life, academics and football. No doubt he has a lot on his plate, but I doubt that he would trade anything for it.

"I don't get to spend as much time with my family as I'd like, especially during training camp" Cooks said. "Her family and my family help out a lot for sure. They both come out quite a bit. Her mom doesn't like to let too much time go by between visits."

Cooks readily admits that other than having a discussion with Wilson shortly after Roosevelt III was born, he hasn't talked with the coaching staff.

"He's got a great family situation," Wilson said. "His wife (Natalie) and son are two minutes away (married student housing). They seem to be doing well. His wife was an athlete, so she knows what it takes (time wise)."

Darrell Moody can be reached at, or by calling (775) 881-1281

"I like being in the middle," said Cooks, who was recently elected as one of two defensive captains by his teammates. "Last year was the first time I'd played outside in my life.

"I like the middle because with two inside linebackers you can play both sides of the field. I think this is a better defense than last year. You get to blitz a lot, and you get to blitz fom different spots on the field."


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