The King in the North: Kerry Coombs Continues to Spearhead Ohio State's Triumphs in the State of Michigan

By Andrew Ellis on March 3, 2016 at 10:10 am
Kerry Coombs is leading the Buckeyes' efforts in Michigan.

I'm going to light the biggest fire the North has ever seen.

Back in 2012, Urban Meyer thought he found his cornerbacks coach — twice. After five years in Columbus, Taver Johnson decided to make the move to Fayetteville and join the Arkansas staff. A few weeks after the departure, the Buckeyes announced the hiring of Bill Sheridan. The Sheridan experiment was short-lived as he decided to head back to the NFL, electing to become the new defensive coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers just three short weeks after joining Meyer in Columbus. 

At the time, Kerry Coombs was a name that was mostly known in the southwestern part of the state, primarily for his time spent as the University of Cincinnati's defensive backs coach and the 15 years leading one of the state's premier high school powers, the Colerain Cardinals. 

Meyer's decision to bring Coombs on board wasn't a consensus home-run hire at the time, but since his arrival in Columbus, his energy and intensity have been unmatched. More importantly, he has been instrumental in helping to bring in some of the nation's top recruits, many of whom have come from behind enemy lines. 

Tuesday's commitment from Antjuan Simmons – a resident of Ann Arbor – is the most recent in a long line of Coombs-coordinated pledges from up north. Ohio State's tireless assistant/special teams coordinator began his flag-planting endeavors back in January of 2013 when he was able to pluck one of the nation's top corners out of Detroit. 

Damon Webb, the nation's fifth-ranked cornerback in the 2014 class, surprised nearly everyone when he committed to the Buckeyes in the middle of his junior year. Detroit's Cass Technical High School had become known as a pipeline to the University of Michigan, so landing the state's No. 2 prospect was an absolutely huge win for Meyer, Coombs and Ohio State. 

Damon Webb at Friday Night Lights, 2013.
Damon Webb surrounded by Ohio State coaches at the 2013 version of Friday Night Lights.

Webb spoke with Eleven Warriors about what set the Buckeyes apart from the rest. 

The deciding factor in my decision was my relationship with Coach Coombs and my family being able to come see me play. Coach Coombs gives it too you straight; you have to put in the work and nothing will be given to you.  If I do that, I think I will have opportunity to play early, win national championships, and most importantly get a quality education.

Coombs and the Buckeyes had to battle all the way up until February of 2015 to secure another pair of standouts from Cass Tech. Mike Weber's recruitment would prove to be a bit of a rollercoaster ride as the four-star tailback committed to Brady Hoke's Wolverines in August of 2014 only to put himself back on the market after watching the Maize and Blue struggle throughout the season. 

Weber's decommitment came midway through the fourth quarter of what would end up being a 23-16 loss for the home.....against the mighty Terrapins. 

Despite a number of new offers from the likes of Notre Dame and Georgia, the Buckeyes were able to stay out in front for the nation's ninth-ranked running back who would go on to make his commitment official in mid-December; just two days after Urban Meyer and Kerry Coombs traveled to Detroit to meet with the Cass Tech star and his family. 

The battle would wage on after Jim Harbaugh's arrival in Ann Arbor, but Ohio State was able to fend off the Wolverines as Weber, along with teammate Joshua Alabi, both signed with the Buckeyes that February.

This past signing day saw another impressive pull from the confines of our northerly neighbors. After missing out on the top offensive tackle prospects in the state of Ohio, the Buckeyes were able to snag the top tackle from the Mitten State. Coombs was certainly fired up about this one as he took to Twitter on that spring afternoon before anyone had any idea what was about to go down. 

Later in the day, four-star offensive lineman Michael Jordan made things official as he announced his commitment to Ohio State. A prominent figure in the Queen City, Coombs was able to use his Cincinnati prowess to help land the 6-foot-6, 305-pound tackle. Jordan's father discussed this connection with Buckeye Sports Bulletin's Ryan Ginn

“Coach Coombs is from Cincinnati, so I was very familiar with him,” Jordan’s father said. “His teams used to beat my high school fairly often. I was very familiar with him, and we know a lot of the same people down there. He is a great relationship builder. He came to our school and really spent the time with our son’s coaching staff. Via

Jordan has been on campus since January and will look to add some depth to a talented 2016 offensive line.

Coombs' ability to build and cultivate relationships should continue to be a huge factor for the Buckeyes' recruiting efforts. Jaylen Kelly-Powell, another Cass Tech star and one of Ohio State's top 2017 defensive back targets, spoke with Eleven Warriors about how the relationship has evolved.

We talk about everything.  Family (his and mine), school, football, life. We've been talking for over a year. Months before he ever offered. A foundation was set and it wasn't all about football. 

Kelly-Powell and five-star teammate Donovan Peoples-Jones are a part of the next wave that the Buckeyes are looking to poach from the Wolverines and Spartans. Michigan is the crystal ball favorite for Kelly-Powell, but Peoples-Jones is still in the way early stages of his recruitment. His crystal ball currently has picks for Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan and Tennessee. 

When it comes to the Buckeyes' recruiting efforts in the state of Michigan, Allen Trieu –'s Midwest Recruiting Manager – summed things up nicely

"To be able to come onto your opponents’ turf, philosophically, that carries onto the field. It says, ‘We’re not backing off these guys.’ It’s taken the rivalry to an even higher level."

Harbaugh appears to have the program in much better hands, and these tough tasks should prove to be even more difficult as the Wolverines work their way back into the national spotlight and the Spartans look to build on their recent success.

While the Buckeyes may only target a handful of Michigan prospects each cycle, Coombs and Co. aren't making things easy for the staffs in Ann Arbor and East Lansing. 

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