Urban Meyer's secret weapon. - Getty Images
Meet Kerry Coombs, the man most responsible for Ohio State's talented class.
Ed. note – While Urban Meyer & Ohio State just reeled in a world class recruiting class, Land-Grant Holy Land is in the process of doing just the same. Meet our Vonn Bell, Matt Borcas. Matt lives in Columbus and also contributes at Grantland. You can follow him on Twitter (appropriately enough) at @mattborcas.
Across the country, official visits were made, cash was exchanged, hostesses twerked, and, for the most part, the fax machines worked. Accordingly, National Signing Day was a cause for celebration in Columbus, where the general consensus seems to be: Urban Meyer is one helluva recruiter. I do not dispute this. Doing so would show a reckless disregard for the facts and devastate Land-Grant Holy Land’s journalistic reputation. However, I would like to shed light on an under-appreciated member of Ohio State’s recruiting task force: Kerry Coombs.
Per his twitter account, @OsuCoachCoombs, Coombs is an "OHIO STATE ASSISTANT FOOTBALL COACH". Sadly, this bio sells his role with the Buckeyes very short. Too short. In reality, when it comes to recruiting, Coombs is more valuable than Meyer. He is Don Draper with a t-shirt and whistle, a dynamo who descended upon this planet solely to persuade adolescents to attend THE Ohio State University. While this may sound blasphemous to Meyer’s myriad zealots, the bulk of evidence is overwhelming.
The legend of Kerry Coombs began at Cincinnati’s Colerain High School, where he was head coach from 1991-2006. "Why," you’re probably wondering, "would someone born to recruit at Ohio State toil in the high school ranks for so long?" To ask this question is to overlook (and, I might add, disrespect) the elaborate plan that ultimately led to this year’s stellar class. Coombs used Colerain to 1) build connections in the fertile recruiting grounds of Southwest Ohio and 2) ascertain what it is, exactly, that makes teenagers tick. Over the course of 16 years, he crafted the ideal message for a college coach to send to a prospective player and subsequently moved on to the University of Cincinnati. Operating under the guise of "defensive backs coach", Coombs spent five seasons at Cincy honing his recruiting techniques and padding his résumé until Meyer came a-calling in 2012. The rest, as you know, is history.
If you’re reticent to label Coombs a better recruiter than Meyer, at least consider him the Lewis to Meyer’s Clark. This is a suitable analogy, as a quick glance at Coombs’s timeline tells us that he approaches recruiting with the mindset of an explorer.
Consider flag cemented in TSUN. Grand Rapids,Detroit vying for name change to North Columbus.Unbelievable reception from both towns!#GoBucks— Kerry Coombs (@OsuCoachCoombs) January 31, 2013
PSA for talented high school football players in the Western Hemisphere: Sooner or later, Kerry Coombs will be in your living room.
Like all great explorers – Neil Armstrong, Christopher Columbus, Dora, etc. – Coombs is never satisfied. Rather, he’s constantly expanding Ohio State’s reach, working tirelessly to unearth new resources (i.e., five star prospects). In fact, he doesn’t care what residents of Newark or Grand Rapids or South Beach think of an Ohio State flag planted in their backyard. Kerry Coombs will commemorate the site of each new commitment however he pleases, thank you very much.
Is it any surprise that, following Chip Kelly’s departure to the Philadelphia Eagles, Coombs scampered across the Oregon Trail and landed running back Dontre Wilson? Given Coombs’s unparalleled navigation skills, Wilson’s flip should’ve been viewed as a foregone conclusion. Moreover, Coombs is so confident in his ability to recruit that, from time to time, he’s daring enough to poke the
bear elephant himself, Nick Saban. Consider this (sub)tweet:
You know that Christmas when you got exactly everything you wanted plus a few extra special bonuses? That's what today was! #bestclassever— Kerry Coombs (@OsuCoachCoombs) February 6, 2013
#Bestclassever, of course, suggests that Ohio State’s haul is superior to Alabama’s. Such shameless hashtaggery has its risks – one would think that this tweet drew the ire of Harvey Updyke – but recruiting is chockfull of risks. What’s one more? And who wouldn’t brag about a lucrative Signing Day? The Christmas metaphor is on point – Vonn Bell is essentially Coombs’s (and Buckeye Nation’s) Red Ryder BB Gun. Let the man live!
Finally, I’ll leave you with this much-circulated video of Coombs’s pitch to running back Ezekiel Elliott, recorded by Elliott’s father. That noise you hear? Brady Hoke, Ed Orgeron, Hugh Freeze, and Saban shaking in their boots.