COLUMBUS — When Corey Dennis was promoted from his quality control role to quarterbacks coach at Ohio State, there were rumblings of nepotism.
Dennis is, after all, the son-in-law of legendary Ohio State coach Urban Meyer. But don’t let the family ties blind the fact that Dennis earned his job promotion. He worked his way up the ladder and became Ryan Day’s right-hand man when Day was the quarterbacks coach.
Dennis earned that job. Don’t buy it? He doesn’t care. He’s comfortable brushing off the skepticism, comfortable in his own skin.
“First of all, I really don’t listen to the talk, so that’s taken care of,” Dennis told Lettermen Row in February. “But also, being around Coach Day, I was with him every day for the last three years, so that was my job interview. He knows what I’m about, knows what I’m able to do, knows what I’m capable of. So, he wouldn’t have hired me if he didn’t think I was ready.”
In Day’s three seasons on the Ohio State coaching staff, Dennis has always been there. When Day showed up for the 2017 season, Dennis began working alongside him. The relationship grew the next year, as did Dennis’ relationship with Heisman Trophy finalist Dwayne Haskins. So when Day was promoted to head coach, Dennis continued to work with another Heisman finalist, Justin Fields.
Dennis’ resume might not include a laundry list of stops at programs for various roles. He didn’t need that. He cut his teeth in the Woody Hayes Athletic Center for years.
He nearly got away, though. When former Boston College coach Steve Addazio was hired to be the next coach at Colorado State, Dennis nearly went to Fort Collins to be Addazio’s new quarterbacks coach. But the open slot on the Ohio State staff led to a change of plans, and Dennis is happy to stay with the Buckeyes.
“I’m invested in this place,” Dennis said. “Both my boys were born here. My wife, she’s been a part of this place. It was really cool when Coach Day called me and let me know, and also, being able to go tell my wife. Nicki, she bursted out in tears. We love this place. We want to be here. It’s exciting.”
It’s also exciting because in his first season as the leader of a unit, Dennis has a Heisman Trophy favorite returning for a second season. He has both a four- and five-star quarterback coming in as true freshman to prep for the future of the program.
What might be most exciting for Dennis is the chance to continue to learn under Day, Kevin Wilson and the rest of the Ohio State staff. He knows what Day and Wilson want out of the offense. He knows the philosophy of the system. He knows the culture of the program. And he knows how to coach quarterbacks. Dennis proved that to Day, and that’s why he was hired this offseason.
Dennis has already learned how to block out the noise that comes with the job. He doesn’t care about the conspiracy theorists who think he was hired based on nepotism. He blocks that out because he’s comfortable and confident in his ability to lead the quarterbacks unit.
He knows what he has to do next.
“I have to go be Corey Dennis,” he said. “I can’t try to go be Ryan Day. I can’t try to go be Kevin Wilson or Brian Hartline or Kerry Coombs. I have to go be myself. If you stay true to that, your relationships will start building from there.”