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Column: Is Corey Dennis the most underrated coach in the nation?

With the success of the quarterback position at Ohio State it may be time to re-evaluate how we feel about Corey Dennis.

NCAA Football: Ohio State Spring Game Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Who is Corey Dennis? Is he Urban Meyer’s son-in-law who was given a job he didn’t earn through nepotism? Is he’s Ryan Day’s assistant who mans the room but does not have much impact? We all assume that Ryan Day is the real quarterbacks coach, so what does Dennis do? Is he an underrated member of the coaching staff? A budding QB guru and a recruiting juggernaut?

The answer to these questions depends on which fan you ask. There is skepticism that Dennis makes an impact, as head coach Ryan Day gets credit for all things program related but especially in quarterback recruiting — which has seen the Buckeyes land five of the top 30 quarterbacks regardless of class since 2020.

Ryan Day as head coach, offensive coordinator, and de facto quarterback coach deserves a lot of credit. Yet, unless we’re assuming Day is a superhero, we should remember that head coach is his priority, which takes his time away from other football things. Meetings with administrators, boosters, press conferences, budgeting, and managing a staff that keeps growing is all apart of his daily duties, and I’m probably missing some.

Day is not the primary recruiter for any recruit — quarterback or otherwise. Day is not texting and facetiming recruits daily. He is also most likely not sitting in every quarterback meeting; he is not running all the drills. That is where Dennis fits in. He is the quarterback coach, he is the primary recruiter. He is the voice that quarterbacks — both recruits and on the roster — hear the most. Day may set the agenda, but Dennis leads the day-to-day development of all the quarterbacks. Not to mention with the transfer portal it is more important then ever to have someone who can build relationships and develop players in a competitive room when only one can play.

As fans it was more than reasonable to question the hiring of a 27-year-old as quarterbacks coach at The Ohio State University. Day could have hired any coach in the nation to run the position. The previous quarterbacks coach, Mike Yurich, was leaving to be an offensive coordinator. This job sets you up for major success, there aren’t many jobs better, and the applicant pool would have been large. So why Dennis?

The natural response is because Day was trying to please his former boss, Urban Meyer. The Meyer footprint was all over the program despite him stepping down, so why not hire his son-in-law. We were used to Meyer hiring friends despite their qualifications, so it wasn’t a leap to think that Dennis wasn’t deserving and only got the job due to his marriage.

Yet two years later, Dennis has been involved in helping land quarterbacks among the likes of Quinn Ewers, Devin Brown and Dylan Raiola. He was involved in developing Justin Fields as a senior quality control coach his first year and the quarterbacks coach his final year. Now he is hands on with CJ. Stroud, who went from a deer in headlights having to navigate a world where fans consistently called for his backup to the potential No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft.

Two years later, maybe Dennis was never just Urban Meyers son-in-law. What if he was always a burgeoning coach oozing with talent? What if Day recognized that he had a meteoric rise in the profession and could help raise the profile of the Ohio State quarterbacks room? The signs were there.

When he was hired, Dwayne Haskins was quoted saying, “He’s like my personal quarterbacks coach when coach Day isn’t around.” Haskins continued to say, “I can ask him about looks, coverages and pressure, and he has everything that coach day teaches him. He helps me throughout practice, throughout meetings, he helps out a lot”. We may forget that Steve Addazio was planning to hire Dennis to join him at Colorado State. Day could have easily let him leave and hired someone else, yet he tabbed Dennis, despite him being only 27.

It is impossible to separate Day from the success of the quarterbacks. Under Day’s tutelage, the Buckeyes have produced two first round draft picks at quarterback with a third expected next year. Day deserves his respect, but I think it’s past due time to recognize the impact Corey Dennis has on this program. The only position group recruited better than wide receivers at Ohio State, where Brian Hartline receives all of the credit, is at quarterback, and Dennis leads that charge.

Don’t take it from me, though. Take it from Dylan Raiola, who mentions Dennis first in his commitment video. You may overlook it, but I don’t think that’s accidental.