What hiring Kerry Coombs means to Cincinnati Bearcats football recruiting

Scott Springer
Cincinnati Enquirer
University of Cincinnati defensive backs coach Kerry Coombs celebrates with defensive back Haruki Nakamura after their 31-21 win against Southern Mississippi in the PapaJohns.com Bowl in Birmingham, Alabama Saturday December 22, 2007.

With the addition of Kerry Coombs to Luke Fickell's 2022 University of Cincinnati football staff, the Bearcats gain a high-energy recruiter who has scoured the Tri-State and beyond for top athletes for the past 15 years. 

Fickell confirmed the news to The Enquirer Tuesday morning. 

His speeches became legendary enough to reach YouTube during his Buckeyes tenure. 

Coming into 2021 at Ohio State, every starting cornerback Coombs had coached had made the NFL. Between 2014-2018 Ohio State had five first-round NFL corners: Bradley Roby (2014 Broncos), current Bengal Eli Apple (2016 Giants), Marshon Lattimore (2017 Saints), Gareon Conley (2017 Raiders) and Denzel Ward (2018 Browns). He recently recruited Jyaire Brown, one of the better players in the state to the Buckeyes.

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On signing day, Brown mentioned Coombs being key to his decision to be a Buckeye.

During his previous stint with UC, Coombs coached future NFL defensive backs Mike Mickens, Haruki Nakamura and DeAngelo Smith. He was recently named part of the LaRosa's Hall of Fame for leading his 2004 Colerain High School team to an undefeated state title. 

Chris Newton, athletic director at Anderson High, coached for Coombs for 14 seasons at Colerain. He's also a former University of Cincinnati baseball player.

"He can sell ice to the Eskimos," Newton said. "That's a good trade. We got the better end of the deal there. I know this, the city of Cincinnati's going to be a better place with him in it."

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His responsibilities at UC will cover the loss of cornerback coach Perry Eliano to Ohio State and special teams coach Brian Mason to Notre Dame. This was confirmed by UC sources. 

Jim Kelly is the long-time radio color analyst for Cincinnati Bearcat football and a former player. He has witnessed what Coombs did here and his time in the NFL and with the Buckeyes.

"I think he's a great coach," Kelly said. "I think he's a great ambassador for the University of Cincinnati on the recruiting side. I had heard last week it was a possibility. All things being considered the way it's played out, I think it's a good choice."

Coombs was the Rivals Recruiter of the Year in 2017 with Ohio State.

As had been speculated in recent reports from ESPN, The Athletic and 247Sports.com, the University of Cincinnati is bringing back Coombs to coach cornerbacks and special teams. 

The hiring process at the University of Cincinnati is lengthy so an official release could come later in the week. 

Ohio State and Coombs parted ways after their Rose Bowl victory over Utah. He posted his goodbyes on Twitter on Saturday.

The Buckeyes were 11-2 this past season (8-1 Big Ten). Their only losses were to Michigan and Oregon. After the Oregon loss, Ohio State removed Coombs' responsibilities as defensive coordinator. In typical Kerry Coombs fashion, he took the news with class. 

It was the second stint for Coombs with the Buckeyes as he became Ryan Day's defensive coordinator in 2020. He spent 2018-2019 with the Tennessee Titans and Mike Vrabel. Previously, he was on Urban Meyer's Buckeye staff between 2012-2017.

As for the Bearcats, he joined them in December 2006 helping Brian Kelly coach the International Bowl right after Kelly came from Central Michigan. He was one of Kelly's first hires and they coached the bowl game using the plays and schemes of Mark Dantonio who had departed for Michigan State.

He then was with Kelly for three seasons, including the Orange Bowl and Sugar Bowl appearances in 2008 and 2009. When Butch Jones was hired, he was elevated to associate head coach while also leading defensive backs and special teams. 

Kerry Coombs was the head coach of the 2004 state champion Colerain Cardinals. He has since coached for the Cincinnati Bearcats, Tennessee Titans and Ohio State Buckeyes

Prior to UC, Coombs was the legendary leader at perennial powerhouse Colerain High School going 161-34 between 1991-2006. He led the Cardinals to 10 state playoff appearances, five state semifinals and a 15-0 state championship in 2004 featuring future UC player Dominick Goodman.