Kerry Coombs hired as defensive coordinator
Titans assistant returns to Ohio State, where each of his previous starting CBs had reached the NFL
Kerry Coombs, who spent six seasons (2012-17) on The Ohio State University football team coaching staff as cornerbacks coach, has been hired by head coach Ryan Day to be the team’s defensive coordinator. Coombs has spent the last two seasons in the National Football League as the cornerbacks coach for the Tennessee Titans.
“Kerry Coombs is the coach I was really hoping we could hire and bring back to Ohio State,” 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.”
Over the past two seasons with Tennessee, Coombs helped the Titans produce one of the league’s top secondary units. In 2018, it ranked sixth in passing defense (216.9 yards/game), eighth in opponent passer rating (88.4) and ninth in opponent completion percentage (.632).
This past season, which included a trip to the AFC Championship Game, Tennessee ranked eighth in the league with 14 interceptions during the regular season. In a wild card round playoff win at New England, the Titans held Tom Brady to his fifth-lowest passer rating of his postseason career.
Coombs spent his first five seasons with the Buckeyes as Ohio State’s cornerbacks coach before being promoted in 2017 to assistant coordinator, defense. He was also the special teams coordinator for five seasons, from 2013 through 2017.
Coombs’ tenure with the Buckeyes was a remarkable one, as evidenced by the five first-round NFL draft choices that he developed between 2014 and 2018: Bradley Roby (2014, Denver Broncos), Eli Apple (2016, New York Giants), Marshon Lattimore (2017, New Orleans Saints), Gareon Conley (2017, Oakland Raiders) and Denzel Ward (2018, Cleveland Browns). Every starting Ohio State cornerback in Coombs’ six-year tenure reached the NFL.
Not coincidentally, Coombs also helped shape some of Ohio State’s best defensive units. From 2012 through 2017, Ohio State was second nationally with 101 interceptions and first with 17 that were returned for touchdowns.
In 2017, the Buckeyes ranked ninth nationally in total defense as Ward became the program’s first consensus All-American at cornerback in nine seasons, since Malcolm Jenkins in 2008. A year earlier, in 2016, Ohio State was fourth in the country with 21 interceptions, including a nation’s-leading seven that were returned for TDs. Two of Coombs’ defensive backs – Lattimore and Conley – were first round NFL Draft choices. Coupled with Apple’s selection in the first round of the 2015 Draft, Ohio State set a record with three cornerbacks taken over consecutive drafts.
During a four-year period between 2014 and 2017, which included two Big Ten titles and the first-ever College Football Playoff national championship, Ohio State finished no lower than No. 13 nationally in pass efficiency defense, rising to as high as No. 3 in 2016.
A lifelong Ohioan who was a member of the University of Dayton’s 1980 Division III national championship team, Coombs’ coaching career includes five seasons at the University of Cincinnati from 2007-11 under head coaches Brian Kelly and Butch Jones. That was preceded by an unprecedented 16-year run as the head coach at Colerain High School, where he had a 161-34 record with 10 state playoff appearances and the 2004 Division I title. His teams from 2000 through 2006 won seven consecutive Greater Miami Conference championships and recorded seven undefeated regular seasons.
Coombs and his wife, Holly, are the parents of three grown children: son Brayden is the newly hired special teams coach of the Detroit Lions; daughter Cortney played soccer at Ball State; and son Dylan played cornerback at the University of Cincinnati and was in the Lindner Honors Plus business program.