CHARLOTTE – The Panthers hired another coach to Frank Reich's staff Wednesday, agreeing to terms with Jonathan Cooley as defensive backs/cornerbacks coach.
Cooley comes to Carolina after three seasons with the Rams, two of which were spent with Panthers defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero. Cooley took over coaching defensive backs in Los Angeles after Evero left Los Angeles for Denver in 2022.
Here are five fast facts to know about Cooley:
1. With Evero on Super Bowl-winning staff in Los Angeles: Cooley was in his second year as a defensive assistant/quality control coach with the Rams when Los Angeles won the Super Bowl at the end of the 2021 season. Cooley worked alongside Evero, the Rams' safeties coach in 2020, and the secondary coach/passing game coordinator in Los Angeles in 2021.
The Rams' secondary finished that season third in interceptions (19) and fifth in opponents passer rating (83.8) en route to a win over the Bengals in Super Bowl 56. Cooley then coached defensive backs in Los Angeles last season.
2. Moving up with the Rams: After being selected by the NFL for the Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship at the end of the 2019 college football season, Cooley helped the Los Angeles defense hold opposing offenses to 16.8 points, 281.9 yards, and 190.7 yards per game in his first year as a defensive assistant/quality control coach. While working with the secondary, Cooley coached cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who was named first-team All-Pro in 2020 and 2021 and received a Pro Bowl nod all three years he worked with Cooley.
Cooley had a connection with former Rams assistant and current Chargers coach Brandon Staley from a previous job at Division III John Carroll University.
3. In the college ranks: Cooley worked his way up through college coaching before 2020, serving as a Division I FBS coach with Akron in 2019 over defensive backs and coaching Kent State's secondary in 2018. He found success as the defensive backs coach for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in 2017, as the Division I FCS-level Mocs led the Southern Conference in total defense and pass defense and ranked second in first downs allowed.
4. First coaching opportunities: Cooley started coaching Division I football as a defensive graduate assistant at Kentucky from 2015-16. He also worked two seasons at his alma mater, John Carroll, coaching the secondary for two seasons and helping JCU reach the top five nationally in Division III. He coached safeties and served as an equipment manager for Division III's Bluffton University in 2012 after working as defensive backs coach and assistant special teams coordinator with Millikin University in 2011.
5. Playing history in Division III: Cooley played defensive back during his college years at John Carroll, becoming a four-year letter-winner and three-year starter who finished in the top 10 in career pass breakups for the Blue Streaks. He went to high school at Gahanna Lincoln in Gahanna, Ohio, playing as a wide receiver and defensive back as his high school team reached their division's regional semifinals in his final two seasons.
Cooley's alma mater also produced a significant number of prominent NFL figures, including Don Shula, Josh McDaniels, Nick Caserio, and London Fletcher, among many others.