Ohio State announces new defensive coordinator

Ohio State coach on high school spring football

Tennessee’s loss in the AFC Championship game Sunday was Ohio State’s gain — in more ways than one.

Kerry Coombs has been hired as defensive coordinator of the Buckeyes, leaving the Titans staff after two seasons.

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His return to Columbus was reportedly in the works for weeks, but the Titans’ unexpected playoff run delayed it becoming official.

“Kerry Coombs is the coach I was really hoping we could hire and bring back to Ohio State,” head 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.”

Day’s first season at Ohio State as quarterbacks coach in 2017 coincided with Coombs’ last in Columbus.

“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.”

LettermenRow.com was the first to report in mid-December Coombs would return to Columbus, where he was cornerbacks coach from 2012-17 and also special teams coordinator from '13-17.

The University of Dayton grad’s first stint with the Buckeyes coincided with Ohio State being able to reclaim the title, “CB U.”

Seven Ohio State cornerbacks have been drafted since 2013, including four in the first round.

That is reminiscent of 1994-2004 when 11 of Ohio State’s 12 starting cornerbacks were drafted, including five first-rounders.

Prior to coaching at Ohio State, Coombs was an assistant at the University of Cincinnati for five seasons.

Before that, he was one of the most successful high school coaches in Southwest Ohio for nearly two decades, including a 16-year run at Colerain where his teams dominated the Greater Miami Conference and won the 2004 state championship.

In addition to his undergrad degree from UD, Coombs has a master’s from Wright State.

In his first season in the NFL, the Titans ranked sixth in the NFL in pass defense (216.9 yards per game), eighth in opponent passer rating of 88.4 and ninth in opponent completion percentage (63.2).

They were 24th in pass defense this past season.

Coombs replaces Jeff Hafley, who left after one season to become head coach at Boston College.

Hafley and Greg Mattison were brought in last January to fix a defense that had faltered badly in 2018.

They had co-defensive coordinator titles with Mattison mostly responsible for the front seven and Hafley handling the secondary, a setup that is likely to continue with Coombs coming back to Columbus.