“Every day you might think it is off coffee, but it is just natural juice.”
-Ohio State linebacker Jerome Baker, via Jim Wyatt, TitansOnline.com
With so many former Ohio State players working out at the NFL Combine last week, there was plenty of love to go around for former assistant defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs, who moved to join Mike Vrabel and the Tennessee Titans this offseason.
Vrabel has acknowledged Coombs’ energy and passion for the game, but former Ohio State linebacker Jerome Baker took it a step further: “It really is unmatched. Every day he just brings it. You see a guy with so much juice, you can’t help but feed off of it.” Defensive end Sam Hubbard commented on Coombs’ role in recruiting and the love for the game that he brought to his players--something Hubbard says will surely translate to the next level.
Coombs has made a name for himself on the Ohio State coaching staff as a bit of a fireball at practice, sprinting on the practice field with players and going red in the face from yelling during games. After spending 24 years as a high school coach, Coombs spent several seasons with Cincinnati before joining Urban Meyer’s squad in 2012. Now, having made the jump to the NFL, Coombs will be managing the Titans’ secondary under Vrabel.
The current starters in the secondary include cornerback Adoree’ Jackson, who was taken with the 18th overall pick last season, and second-year safety Kevin Byard. Coombs is familiar with the young NFL talent in the secondary, having coached several first-round picks himself over the last few years, including Marshon Lattimore, Gareon Conley, Eli Apple and Bradley Roby at cornerback alone.
Coombs said that he will not adjust his energetic coaching style, which has worked for his players at both the high school and college levels: “I love what I do, and I am passionate about it. I enjoy every minute of every day, and I don’t expect that to change.”
Final Team Standings#GoBucks pic.twitter.com/yzrGv2iZFR— Ohio State Wrestling (@wrestlingbucks) March 4, 2018
The second-ranked Ohio State men’s wrestling team took home its second-straight Big Ten Championship Sunday at the conference championships in East Lansing. Despite having no national top-seeds in any weight class, the Buckeyes rolled to 164.5 total points--the most of any team in the Big Ten Championship in 16 years. Penn State, who narrowly defeated Ohio State last month, came in second with 148 points. Michigan, Iowa and Nebraska rounded out the top-five. This win is the Buckeyes’ third championship in four years, and their fifth in school history.
Four Ohio State wrestlers also won individual titles this weekend. Senior Nathan Tomasello won his fourth conference title at 125-pounds. With the win, he became one of just 16 wrestlers in conference history to win four individual championships. Junior Joey McKenna, a transfer from Stanford, earned his third-straight individual title at 141-pounds without giving up a single point for the duration of the tournament. Sophomore Kollin Moore won his second-straight championship at 197-pounds. Senior Kyle Snyder, already one of the most decorated wrestlers in program history, rounded out the group with the heavyweight title, overcoming his only loss of the season by defeating Michigan’s Adam Coon in the finals. All four individual champions earned a spot on the 2018 all-Big Ten team. Three Buckeyes, Luke Pletcher (133-pounds), Micah Jordan (157-pounds) and Myles Martin (184-pounds), earned runner-up finishes on the weekend.
Head coach Tom Ryan took home Big Ten Coach of the Year honors. It is the third time that Ryan has won coach of the year, and the second-straight season that he has been recognized.
Next up, the Buckeyes head to the NCAA Championships at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. The tournament is scheduled to start March 15. All 10 Buckeyes in the starting lineup earned individuals bids to the championships.
“Based on the way the defense took off with Borland in that spot, don’t expect it to be an issue again.”
-Austin Ward, Land of 10
After a strong redshirt freshman season, linebacker Tuf Borland could prove to be the anchor in a linebacking corps that is losing both of its outside linebackers to the NFL Draft this spring. Despite a limited start to last season, Borland eventually found his role at middle linebacker between the veterans Jerome Baker and Chris Worley. Now, it will be up to Borland to be the linchpin of the defense starting in spring practice this year.
Borland, a four-star prospect coming out of high school, spent last season as a redshirt, and sat out the first two games of the 2017 season against Indiana and Oklahoma. When he finally came into play against Army in Week 3, Borland recorded a dozen tackles on the day. He had limited playing time over the next four games, accruing 12 more tackles before sitting out again in the Buckeyes’ nailbiter against Penn State.
Despite his limited use early in the season, Borland showcased his strengths at Ohio State’s matchup against Michigan State, recording eight solo tackles and his first career sack. He continued to be used down the stretch in Ohio State’s wins over Michigan, Wisconsin and, ultimately, in the Cotton Bowl against USC. These wins show what Borland is capable of against tough competition down the stretch. He was a reliable tackler and held the middle of the field down well alongside Worley and Baker, and finished the season with 58 tackles--good for fifth on the team.
Heading into next season, Borland will be the likely starter at middle linebacker, having benefited from a year in a backup role. Baron Browning, who is entering his sophomore season, would be Borland’s toughest competition. Browning came to Ohio State as a five-star prospect and one of the best outside linebacker prospects in the country, but the job will be Borland’s to lose.
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