Coombs' Messages Come From The Heart

Thanks to some videos that were posted to YouTube, Ohio State cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs has become known for his passionate recruiting pitches that are delivered during official visit weekends. The Cincinnati native honed his speaking abilities during his time as a head coach at Cincinnati Colerain and then as an assistant at Cincinnati and Ohio State.

Stacy Elliott, the father of Ohio State sophomore running back Ezekiel Elliott, vividly remembers the first time he ever heard cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs speak.

In fact, it resonated with him so much that he starting recording Coombs' words after wandering up to listen. The father-and-son duo was in Columbus on Oct. 6, 2012, on an unofficial visit as the Buckeyes cruised to a 63-38 triumph over Nebraska. For the elder Elliott, the best show of the night began after the game.

"We walked into the locker room, and I heard this man speaking – I love great speakers," he said. "I looked up and saw a crowd of people and I saw Coach Coombs speaking to them. I left Ezekiel where he was in the locker room and rushed up to hear this guy speak, and then Ezekiel and them came up."

He was hooked.

While Elliott first heard Coombs speaking in a postgame setting, the real draw came when he heard the fiery coach deliver a recruiting pitch on an official visit. On recruiting weekends, Coombs speaks to recruits and their parents about why he believes that Ohio State is one of the most special places in the world. Delivered non-stop and with no notes, the speeches generally last for five to 10 minutes and cover more ground than most people could in twice that time.

The family is here, and it's going to be special. Over the next four years, we're going to change college football. We're going to change college football. Not just because we're going to win games but because of the manner in which we're going to do it.

"I've been fortunate enough to do a lot of speaking in a lot of arenas when I was a head coach and I lived in Cincinnati for a long time so I was asked to do a lot of speaking," Coombs said. "I've also been recruiting for a long time. I'll be honest with you, from the recruiting side of things, I was a player who got recruited, I was a dad whose children got recruited, I was a high school coach who saw his players get recruited and I'm a college coach.

"I would like to think I have some experience with the things that are important. What I try to do and what I believe in doing in any opportunity I have to talk to a young man about coming to Ohio State is to clearly articulate why this is a special place. To me, that's not very hard."

Elliott was so enamored with Coombs' abilities as an orator that he made it a point to get down to Columbus for official visit weekends even after his son enrolled at Ohio State. This winter, the rest of the world got to see what Ohio State players and prospective recruits knew thanks to a pair of videos that Elliott posted on YouTube showing Coombs making his pitch to recruits.

It's not about the shoes. It's not about the jersey. It's all about the people, and the people at Ohio State are unique. Our head coach absolutely has a plan. Not a plan for goodness, not even a plan for greatness but a plan for excellence, to be different from everybody else. I know this about our head coach: 365 days a year, 24 hours a day and seven days a week he is focused on winning that championship. He'll send us texts, he'll send us messages, he'll pick up the phone and call. But he is constantly thinking about what he can do for you, for me, to help us achieve that goal.

"It's from the heart," Coombs said. "To me, if you believe in what you're saying and what you say you believe to be true, man, I could talk forever. I love this place and I love what we do and I love our kids, so it makes it really easy to talk about it."

With the spring game on Saturday, there will be plenty of high-profile visitors in town. Coombs is no stranger to recruiting success, pulling four-star cornerback Damon Webb out of Detroit Cass Tech, a traditional Michigan pipeline. But in addition to the players that he recruits, his pitches give him a chance to interact with the visitors from outside of his recruiting territory.

"People seem to like it and they're very nice. I'm sure there's just as many people who don't like it but they don't call, so that's OK," he said, laughing. "It's just a piece of the weekend. You spend a lot of time with these kids and you recruit a lot of kids, and this is an opportunity for me to address some of the players that I'm not recruiting. There might be 10 kids in there, and they're not all mine, so that's kind of fun. We all have different things that we specialize in and that happens to be the one that Coach Meyer has let me do."

Because of the way in which his speeches are delivered – off the cuff, with no notes or preparation beforehand – no two speeches are alike. In January, for instance, he spoke about the commemorative footballs that Ohio State had just received to celebrate the record 24-game winning streak.

The next time he speaks, it will be different, although the key points will always remain the same.

"I think it's different every year and different every weekend," Coombs said. "It has to do with both the audience and what's going on with us. I would say, especially since I don't write any of it down or remember very much of it, I couldn't tell you if one is much different than the other."

There is one thing he's very clear about, though.

"I love what I do and I love Ohio State," he said. "I don't mind people knowing that."

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