"My uncle just told me I had to play," Combs said, "so I took his advice."
His senior year at Hamilton, the defensive lineman racked up All-Metro honors and played in the Memphis All-Star game.
But he wasn't attracting attention. Division I schools weren't the only ones not noticing the raw but obviously gifted lineman; Combs heard from nary a Division II school or junior college.
Grades, he said, probably steered away some would-be interested schools. So, upon graduation, he enrolled at Ninth Grade College Prep Academy, a prep school in Houston Texas, in order to improve his academic standing.
The education there, however, wasn't to Combs's liking. He left after a season and enrolled at Fort Scott Community College in Kansas, where he spent a season before leaving after a coaching change. He finally settled down at Pierce College in Woodland Hills, Calif., and as a result, his recruitment has seen a significant boost.
The lineman was back in Memphis this past weekend and took the time to unofficially visit the U of M, which he admits looks a whole lot different than the last time he saw it.
"I like the fact that it's a new face of the program," Combs said. "I like all the coaches. I like how they're trying to bring it up and get the community involved. I like the fact that they're so tight and cool, and their bond. I like how they're redoing the facilities and all that. It's gonna be a nice program. It's just gonna take time, but I like Memphis a lot."
Combs said Fuente has infused new energy into a program that's been devoid of any substantial excitement in the last several years.
"What he has is intelligence with what he wants to do with his program," Combs said. "That's what I love about him. If he has that much confidence in the program, it makes me believe they'll do something and that they'll be good in the Big East. He's a real, laid-back cool coach, but it looks like he has a whole lot of emotion when it comes to practice time."
The 2013 recruit said he's in no hurry to make a decision, but that Memphis holds no built-in advantage just because it's his hometown.
"I'm just leaving my options open," Combs said. "If Memphis has the best option for me, I'll play for Memphis. If Memphis doesn't, I won't. All my options are open."