LEXINGTON, Ky. – For Tommy Cook, coaching became an itch he finally had to scratch.
The former University of Kentucky wide receiver has returned to his alma mater as a graduate assistant coach, Coach Joker Phillips announced Thursday. The announcement marks the culmination of a successful ‘recruiting’ battle by the new Wildcat head coach.
“I’ve tried to get Tommy here since he graduated,” Phillips said. “The leadership and toughness he showed as a player, and the respect that he will earn from the (current) players, are the qualities that will make him a great coach.”
“I had a good (work) opportunity coming out of school and I wanted to be a ‘coat-and-tie guy,’” said Cook, who spent four years in medical sales following his playing days. “But my grandfather was a football coach and principal, and my father was a football coach and teacher, so it’s in my blood.
“I kept in contact with Coach Phillips and came back to work at (UK) football camps. Coach (Rich) Brooks and Coach Phillips were instrumental in me returning (for the GA role). I’m really excited to get to work on Coach Phillips’ staff.”
Cook was a wide receiver with the Wildcats from 2000-05, including a sixth year to complete his eligibility because of medical hardship. Despite having to overcome several injuries during his playing days, Cook’s career totals included 74 catches for 951 yards and six touchdowns. In addition, he was a tenacious blocker and notable contributor on special teams. He also assisted Phillips in coaching the wide receivers in the 2004 season while recovering from an injury.
During his playing career, Cook earned a place on the Southeastern Conference Academic Honor Roll, was named to the UK Athletics Society of Character and was chosen for the ESPN “All-Mayday Team” in honor of players who show extraordinary toughness and determination.
Cook will serve as a graduate assistant for the defensive coaches. He replaces Dontae Wright, whose term as a graduate assistant has expired. Having earned his bachelor’s degree in kinesiology, Cook will work on a master’s degree in sports leadership.