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Report: Titans defensive backs coach Kerry Coombs is going to be Ohio State’s new defensive coordinator

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Mike Vrabel will have a defensive staff position opening for the first time since 2018.

Tennessee Titans v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images

Austin Ward — a reporter who covers Ohio State for Letterman Row — is reporting that Titans defensive backs coach Kerry Coombs will be named the Buckeyes new defensive coordinator, confirming rumors that had been circulating for weeks.

Coombs came to the Titans two years ago from Ohio State to join Mike Vrabel’s staff. Now he returns with a promotion.

While in Tennessee, Coombs did good work with players like Kevin Byard, Kenny Vaccaro, Adoree’ Jackson, Malcolm Butler, and Logan Ryan. The Titans secondary has largely been the strongest position group on a unit that finished 3rd and 12th in the league in scoring defense the last two years.

Coombs has deep ties in the state of Ohio as a long time high school coaching legend before he made the jump to the college ranks, first with Cincinnati, and then with Ohio State. Coaching the Titans secondary is the only coaching job Coombs has ever had outside of the Buckeye state so it’s not hard to understand his reasoning for taking the job here.

For the Titans, it’s the second assistant coach that Vrabel has lost to a promotion in as many years joining Matt LaFleur, who jumped from offensive coordinator for the Titans to head coach of the Packers last offseason. After several seasons of trying to figure out who was going to get fired off a staff, it’s a nice change of pace to see the turnover come in the form of coaches getting promotions elsewhere.

Coombs’ energetic style was popular with the team and the fan base while he was here and he will be tough to replace. One of the candidates that is currently on the staff is current assistant defensive backs coach Scott Booker. He played in the secondary under Dean Pees in college at Kent State before getting into coaching with stops at Kentucky, Notre Dame, and Nebraska before agreeing to join his old coach on the Titans staff in 2018. Booker worked specifically with the safeties over the last two years.

Another candidate to keep an eye on is Everett Withers. The 56 year old Appalachian State grad has been coaching defensive backs for over 30 years at both the college and pro levels, including a stint working alongside Vrabel at Ohio State and a time here in Nashville working as the Titans defensive backs coach from 2001 to 2006.

Mike Vrabel’s right hand man, John “Stretch” Streicher, is close to Withers as well, having spent four seasons with him at James Madison and Texas State in various roles.

Withers spent the 2019 season coaching defensive backs for the Giants, but with a new head coach coming in with the hiring of Joe Judge, it remains to be seen if Withers will be retained. If he is not brought back by New York, he might find a landing spot with an old friend.