Ohio State brings back Titans assistant Kerry Coombs, this time as defensive coordinator

Ryan Day is bringing in a familiar face to be Ohio State’s defensive coordinator. 

The school announced Monday that Day has hired Kerry Coombs to run the Buckeyes’ defense. Coombs spent six seasons (2012-17) at Ohio State as the team’s cornerbacks coach before spending the last two seasons in the same role with the Tennessee Titans. Now, after the Titans were eliminated from the NFL playoffs in the AFC Championship on Sunday, Coombs has formally signed on to return to Columbus — this time in a bigger role. 

“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.”

After two years with the Tennessee Titans, Kerry Coombs is returning to Ohio State — this time as defensive coordinator. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Day coached alongside Coombs in 2017 when Day served as the co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for Urban Meyer. When Meyer retired following the 2018 season, Day was elevated to head coach. Day had Jeff Hafley as his defensive coordinator in 2019 but needed a replacement when Hafley was hired as Boston College’s head coach. 

When he was at Ohio State, Coombs, a member of Meyer’s original OSU staff, helped defensive backs like Bradley Roby, Marshon Lattimore, Eli Apple, Gareon Conley, Malik Hooker and Denzel Ward develop into high NFL draft choices. 

“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,” Day said. “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.”

According to the Columbus Dispatch, the 58-year-old Coombs will become Ohio State’s highest-paid assistant with a salary of “at least $1.2 million.”

Ohio State had an excellent first season under Day. The Buckeyes went undefeated in the regular season and won the Big Ten title before dropping a heartbreaker to Clemson in the College Football Playoff semifinals. 

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