Tennessee Titans defensive backs coach Kerry Coombs is returning to his roots to be the defensive coordinator at Ohio State.
Coombs, 58, came to the Titans when Mike Vrabel accepted the head coach position. Coombs previously worked at Ohio State as the cornerbacks coach, special teams coordinator, and assistant defensive coordinator.
He will succeed Jeff Hafley as defensive coordinator and secondary coach. Hafley left the Buckeyes to become head coach at Boston College.
Vrabel, who was on the Ohio State staff with Coombs as defensive line coach in 2012-13, said: “I never want to be the coach that keeps people from doing the things they need to do. I’ve had that happen to me. I am happy for Kerry and he’s on his way to Columbus.”
Ohio State is getting a coach who has 35 years of experience having developed top-level prospects such as Bradley Roby, Eli Apple, Marshon Lattimore, Gareon Conley, and Denzel Ward. Each of the starting cornerbacks that worked with Coombs reached the NFL.
“Kerry Coombs is the coach I was really hoping we could hire and bring back to Ohio State,” coach Ryan Day said. “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’ infectious approach to the game was felt as soon as he started working with the Titans players.
“He was instantly coaching me up in rookie minicamp. He didn’t take it light on me,” rookie safety Amani Hooker said. “He had a huge impact. His passion for the game, teaching me footwork and stuff. He had all types of cornerbacks at Ohio State. His energy rubbed off really well. You see him on the sidelines, you know it’s not fake energy. It’s real.”
The impact was also felt by the veteran defensive backs who were already established before Coombs got to Tennessee. He won them over despite coming from college to coach in the NFL.
“We had a special talk. I was a special player for him and he was a special coach for me,” Logan Ryan said. “Hats off to him for coming in and working with the veteran players that we had. For him to come in and win the room over the way he did, man my hat’s off to him. He worked his butt off every single day and deserves to be the DC at Ohio State. That’s a hard gig to get, so I am happy for him. He deserves it.”
The Titans defensive back group will miss Coombs’ energy in practice. They seemed to bond with him instantly.
Added safety Kevin Byard: “He brought intensity every day. He never changed. He came into every meeting super excited for the day. He was out there at practice, super excited. We worked extremely hard, we practiced extremely hard and he laid it out on the line for us every day. I am happy and blessed that I was able to be coached by him. He came from there and I know that school means a lot to him. He was great for us and he helped us a lot as a DB group.”