Tales From Spring Practice — Quoting Coombs
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State could sell tickets to its practices if for no other reason than the fact that cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs will always be worth the price of admission.
Meyer's newest hire was hooting and hollering with his first step onto the practice field on Wednesday. It was his first as a Buckeye, and it was clear that he was ready to go. If his verbal demeanor wasn't an indication of his excitement, then the running chest bump that he shared with safety Corey Brown certainly was.
The media had a tremendous vantage point in which to watch Coombs work with his cornerbacks. He was running his drills just feet from the collective media, a captive audience who happened to be occupying a set of metal bleachers.
It was almost an uncomfortable situation as Coombs time and again made some hilarious statements during drills. It was hard not to laugh, but all the while you are trying to keep in mind that if you do laugh, the players who are being targeted by Coombs are less than ten feet from you.
It was actually a tremendous lesson watching him tear a player down, and then build him back up, and this would sometimes happen within the span of just one drill.
During a ladder drill, freshman Tyvis Powell's first time through was not very good, and Coombs let him know it.
"This is the big time now," he told him. "You're at Ohio State! Play like it."
The second time through was better, and he let him know it again. By the third time through, however, Powell was doing so well that Coombs wanted everyone to know it.
"You're a learner, Tyvis!" he yelled. "We got a lady in the third row that can see it," referencing a female media member seated just feet away.
Then later on after another successful drill, Coombs had more encouragement for Powell.
"You know how much better you're getting? Even the lady in the third row knows!"
But it wasn't all sugar and roses for Powell. After making a very nice play on a fake punt drill, Coombs growled at him, "Don't stand up like you did something!"
As you would expect, however, Powell wasn't the only recipient of Coombs' boisterous coaching.
Coombs apparently hates it when players put their hands on their hips. He caught sophomore cornerback Doran Grant doing it and yelled at him.
"Get your hands off your hips! Got too many people watching practice to have your hands on your hips!"
Shortly thereafter, he caught walk-on cornerback Julian Vann with his hands on his hips and snapped at him, "Hands off your freaking hips!"
I did think it was interesting, or crafty, that Grant routinely placed himself right behind Coombs, that way he could put his hands on his hips without getting yelled at.
On another footwork drill, Adam Griffin and Grant were working simultaneously, with Grant in front and Griffin behind him. He bellowed at Grant to get lower, "You're too tall!" he said. Then he turned his attention to Griffin, whom he had lost sight of because Grant was in front of him, "You're too short! I can't even see you."
They then began work on another drill, which involved a structure like a trampoline, but two players at a time backpedal underneath it in order to teach them to stay low. The structure is about four feet off the ground and has metal bars across the top, so if the players don't stay low enough, they bang their helmets on the bars, and it's quite noticeable.
After banging his helmet a time or two going through it once, Grant was determined not to do it again. The next time he went through, he took his time and Coombs wasn't very happy with him.
"You know how much slower than Adam Griffin you are," he yelled. "He wants your job, Doran!"
Though he did also make it a point to say, "You don't even have to duck, Adam!"
He also took a playful shot at 5-9 walk-on Nick Sarac, shouting "Are you kidding me!? You're five-foot-five!" after Sarac hit his helmet on a bar.
Later on, however, it was time to build Doran Grant back up following a successful drill, offering up "You're getting better. You're getting better."
During some scrimmaging he was coaching Grant, telling him that his eyes were everywhere following an incomplete pass.
Coombs didn't just focus on the young pups, however, as last year's starters Travis Howard and Bradley Roby also heard from their new coach.
After a bit of a struggle early during a drill, Coombs challenged Howard and told him, "When you get tired, you go to s---."
From that point on it was a positive day for Howard, and Coombs let him know it, remarking a time or two after a nice play, "That's All-Big Ten stuff right there!"
During some seven on sevens, Roby jumped a post route perfectly, but dropped a sure interception. Coombs couldn't believe it. He was cheering Roby as soon as he broke on the ball, but all of his joy left him once the ball hit the ground.
"Do you know how good and how bad that was all at once," he yelled.
My sentiments exactly.
When the Buckeyes were bad, Coombs was at his best. And when the Buckeyes were good, he was even better.
No matter the situation, the show was entertaining—and I didn't even have to buy a ticket.
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