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Kerry Coombs reputation as a recruiter at Ohio State was well-earned
When the news broke in mid-December that Jeff Hafley was leaving Ohio State for a chance to run his own program, it didn’t take long for Lettermen Row sources to mention the name of Kerry Coombs as a potential, probable replacement.
Now he’s officially back at Ohio State.
A centerpiece of Urban Meyer’s staff during his six years with the Buckeyes, Coombs was regarded as one of the country’s best cornerbacks coaches and teachers. Under his guidance, the Ohio State secondary emerged as one of the country’s best, producing a number of first-round NFL draft picks. Guys like Marshon Lattimore, Denzel Ward, Gareon Conley, Eli Apple and Malik Hooker ushered in the latest wave of NFL talents like Jeff Okudah and Shaun Wade.
And they all had one thing in common: Kerry Coombs recruited and coached them.
Coombs was a rock star on the recruiting trail for Ohio State, becoming a thorn in the side of opponents in Michigan, Ohio and the Southeast, including Atlanta and Florida. He was named the national recruiter of the year by Rivals.com in 2017 after helping land Jeff Okudah, Shaun Wade, Kendall Sheffield, Marcus Williamson, Amir Riep, Pete Werner, Brendon White, Isaiah Pryor, Blake Haubeil and Jerron Cage in that class.
Jeff Hafley did a remarkable job for the Buckeyes in his one year in Columbus, and his departure presented a unique challenge for Ohio State. But the addition of Coombs provides a more-than-adequate replacement on every level of the decision. He’s as respected as any coach who has stepped foot into the Ohio State program in recent years, and that is across the board — by fellow coaches, parents, players and people he’s met on the recruiting trail.
What role Coombs plays on the recruiting trail is up in the air from here. But it seems likely that he’ll once again handle recruiting in Michigan, Southwest Ohio and Florida, where he excelled in the past. Hafley was able to essentially handpick his cornerbacks in the Class of 2020 and then go recruit them wherever they were, and there’s no reason to think Coombs won’t be granted the same liberties.
Ryan Day once again proves himself to recruits, families
In his first year as the coach at Ohio State, Ryan Day was more than once put into a position that no one wants to be in. He had to look recruits and their families in the eyes and tell him exactly what he was going to do — and then he had to actually go out and do it.
It started when he told them he’d find defensive coaches a year ago that would reset the standard at Ohio State. He hired Jeff Hafley to run the Buckeyes defense, a coach even the players had never heard of, and it turned out pretty well. When Hafley left, he knew the standard couldn’t change.
“Going to do the same thing again next year, go get the best there is,” Day told the media following Hafley’s departure. “You call around to different people that you respect. But usually, the people you bring in are people that you know really well and you trust.”
Trust is the operative word in this equation, and it’s so much a part of the program that Day is trying to build and maintain in Columbus.
“Ryan Day told us that he’d be finding the best coach in America,” C.J. Cavazos, the father of Buckeyes early-enrollee Lejond Cavazos told Lettermen Row shortly after Hafley’s departure became known. “And we believe he will. We trust in Ryan Day. He said he’s going to do what’s best for the program. We believe he will.”
That trust paid off. Day’s desire to bring back Coombs is more proof of the young coach’s maturity. It’d have been very easy to let ego get in the way of hiring Coombs. A lot of coaches would have made it a point to hire their own guy rather than going back to a former assistant of his predecessor. But Coombs is a home-run hire for the Buckeyes, for Day, for recruits and for the current roster.
Day has continued to prove himself at every turn. By bringing back Coombs, he’s done it again.
Ohio State, Kerry Coombs and Cameron Martinez
Kerry Coombs will be back on the recruiting trail representing Ohio State quickly — and it could even be Tuesday if all the proverbial ducks get lined up in time. Though his previous success is well-documented, the next round of his Buckeyes career will be judged by the way he recruits in the future.
The biggest priority for Coombs will be Buckeyes 2020 commitment Cameron Martinez. Day visited the Muskegon (Mich.) 4-star on Friday and suggested that as soon as Hafley’s replacement could visit Martinez, they would.
While Coombs helped lead the Tennessee Titans to the AFC Championship game, Day and the Buckeyes staff made sure Martinez knew the energetic assistant coach was the hopeful replacement for Hafley, so there’s no doubt the Ohio State commit has been researching Coombs. Now the two will actually meet with the hope of ending any suspense from here to signing day.
Now, Coombs can go and visit with Martinez. If Ohio State wants to remove any lingering doubt in the mind of Michigan’s Mr. Football and his family, the 5-foot-11, 195-pound two-sport/two-way star for the Big Red will be among the first calls and first visits on Coombs’ to-do list.
The visit from Day “helped,” according to Martinez. But when it comes to finalizing his decision to sign with Ohio State on Feb. 5, the relationship and trust that gets built from now until then will tell the tale as Notre Dame, Northwestern and others hope to play spoiler.
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