If the shelves that were once full of Red Bull are now empty in and around Columbus, it’s either due to one man or all of Buckeye Nation wanting to be like that man. That man is Kerry Coombs, who is back with the Ohio State Buckeyes after spending two seasons with former Buckeye Mike Vrabel as the Tennessee Titans secondary coach.
“Kerry Coombs is the coach I was really hoping we could hire and bring back to Ohio State,” head coach Ryan Day said in a statement on Monday, once the hiring became official. “He is an excellent coach and he has had two outstanding seasons in the NFL on Mike Vrabel’s staff with the Tennessee Titans.
“I’ve spent a season on staff with Kerry and I really like his coaching and knowledge of the game, but I also like that he knows Ohio State and he knows how to recruit to Ohio State. He’s recruited some of the players currently on the team and he coached a handful of Buckeye defensive backs who went on to become first-round NFL draft picks.”
Passion ➕ proven success.
— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) January 20, 2020
Coombs was Ohio State’s cornerbacks coach from 2012-17 before departing to the NFL. Once defensive backs coach and co-defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley left Day’s staff after just one season to become the head coach at Boston College, the job Coombs once held was once again vacant. Day had to replace a dominant coach like Hafley with another talented coach and he so happened to get one of the most elite defensive backs coaches the program has ever had to return. Due to the Titans still being in the NFL postseason, nothing could be made official, but it seemed pretty obvious that over the last couple weeks, Coombs would be returning to Columbus to join Day’s staff.
Although Urban Meyer is no longer in charge, Coombs’ energetic personality and the ability to recruit some of the top talents in Ohio and in the country as a whole were things that never went unnoticed. In case you didn’t know about Coombs’ energy or missed it at all, Eleven Warriors’ Kevin Harrish and D.J. Byrnes have done an outstanding job of showing us his top moments during his first tenure at Ohio State.
Known for his never-ending energy and ability to develop cornerbacks that succeed in college and went on to get drafted into the NFL on a yearly basis, Coombs turned Ohio State into the new DBU.
From 2001-2012, the Ohio State Buckeyes had just four defensive backs selected in the NFL Draft.1 Since Coombs joined Ohio State’s coaching staff, the Buckeyes have had arguably the best defensive backfield in the country, both in terms of talent on the field and success in the NFL Draft. Ohio State had basically been a development team for the NFL, especially for their cornerbacks and safeties. In just the last five drafts between 2014 and 2018, Coombs had five of his defensive backs drafted in the first round, three of which came last April. Cornerback Bradley Roby (2014), Cornerback Eli Apple (2016), cornerback Marshon Lattimore (2017), safety Malik Hooker (2017), cornerback Gareon Conley (2017), cornerback Denzel Ward (2018).))
Thanks to Coombs’ ability to find talent on the recruiting trail while “planting flags” paired with being able to develop the defensive backs while they are in Columbus, Ohio State turned into the new DBU, aka Defensive Back University. Ohio State’s talent in the defensive backfield was second to none, both during the player’s college years and in the NFL. After that talent (both at the college level and in the NFL Draft) took a hit with Taver Johnson as the defensive backs coach in 2018, Hafley turned things around in 2019. It will once again be on Coombs to continue the dominance. He was not only dominant during his time with the Buckeyes, but his NFL experience gives him even more credibility, both in terms of the current team and in recruiting.
In his first offseason (and season) back at Ohio State, Coombs will be tasked with reloading a defensive backfield that lost three starters, cornerbacks Jeff Okudah and Damon Arnette and safety Jordan Fuller, all three of which will be selected in the upcoming NFL Draft. A player that Coombs once recruited, Shaun Wade’s decision to return to the Buckeyes is a huge boost for the Silver Bullets. Coombs just has to prove his dominance once again, both as a developer and a recruiter.
Unlike his first stint in Columbus, Coombs will also be Ohio State’s co-defensive coordinator, working alongside Greg Mattison. According to the Columbus Dispatch’s Bill Rabinowitz, Coombs is set to receive a salary of at least $1.2 million, which is more than any assistant coach on Day’s staff were paid in 2019.2 With Coombs back in the fold and Corey Dennis being promoted to quarterbacks coach, taking over for Mike Yurcich, Day’s coaching staff is full once again.
Ohio State’s defensive backfield is in a very good place. It’s awesome to have Coombs and his energetic personality back in Columbus. Buckeye Nation will love it, especially because the DBU tradition will likely continue.