Upon the departure of former secondary coach and co-defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley to take the head coaching position at Boston College, Ohio State head coach Ryan Day said the program would get “the best in America” as his replacement.
With the school’s announcement on Monday of the hiring of former Ohio State cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs, it appears Day has identified that suitor.
Coombs, who served on Urban Meyer’s staff from 2012-17, comes back to Columbus after spending the past two seasons in the NFL as the secondary coach for Mike Vrabel and the Tennessee Titans. He returns with an increased role as he will serve alongside Greg Mattison as co-defensive coordinator for the Buckeyes, while also regaining his previous role as the secondary coach.
During his first stint at Ohio State, Coombs quickly developed a reputation as an ace recruiter for the program, winning countless battles on the trail for some of the best high school talent in America. The fact he has since added two years of NFL experience to his resume should only make him an even stronger presence in the recruiting battles to come.
His prowess didn’t end in recruiting, however. On the field, Coombs was able to develop that talent into eventual NFL Draft picks, including five cornerbacks who were selected in the first round from 2013-17.
Coombs’ success on both fronts led to his promotion as the assistant defensive coordinator for the Buckeyes in 2017 before joining the NFL ranks the following year.
“Kerry Coombs is the coach I was really hoping we could hire and bring back to Ohio State,” Day said in a statement on Monday. “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.”
Coombs’ hire quickly became a matter of when, not if, over the past few weeks as it was clear he was Day’s top target to replace Hafley. However, given Tennessee’s unexpected run to Sunday’s AFC Championship game, the announcement was delayed until the Titans’ season was finished.
He will have his work cut out for him in year one of his second stint in Columbus as the secondary was among the hardest-hit units by roster attrition. Coombs won’t be without the talent to coach in 2o20, however, especially given the return of Shaun Wade for one more season.
Should things go according to plan, Wade will likely become the next first-round NFL draft pick to be coached by Coombs at Ohio State.