Thomas Bradley / Campus editor
Ohio State cornerbacks Travis Howard and Bradley Roby aren’t shy about admitting their position coach, Kerry Coombs, is a bit of a trash talker.
They said they’re the same way.
“Me and Travis are already kind of like that,” said Roby, a rising redshirt sophomore. “He brings that same mentality, that hard-nose, trash-talking kind of play.”
Roby said he likes it that way.
“That’s how I am. I love that,” Roby said. “I’m right behind him doing the same thing.”
Likewise, it seems Coombs’ fiery demeanor has also commanded Howard’s respect.
But even more so, the rising redshirt senior said the guidance from the former Cincinnati assistant coach is what he and the rest of the corners need.
“It’s definitely been a great change,” Howard said. “I mean, he’s a high intensity guy who’s willing to make sure we perfect our technique and make sure we work hard at whatever we do.”
For Coombs, that feeling of admiration and respect is mutual.
In addition to having what he called talented and gifted athletes, what has struck the 51-year-old the most is how diligently his players work.
“They’re in my office poking their head in all the time,” he said. “They want to know what they can do to get better, they want to know where they fell short.”
Coombs said it’s no secret that OSU has a “great history” of defensive secondary players.
Outside the coaches’ offices, Coombs said there’s a wall commemorating eight first-round NFL Draft picks that the Buckeyes have produced throughout the years.
Coombs said he thinks Roby will be the next to join the wall.
“He’s big, and he’s fast, and he’s physical, and he’s intelligent and he’s got great change of direction,” Coombs said. “His transition is outstanding. And if Bradley’s not a first-round draft pick down the road, that would be a shame.”
Roby, who recorded 47 tackles and three interceptions in 2011, said being one of the greatest corners to play at OSU has been his goal since arriving in Columbus.
“I think about it everyday,” he said. “When I came up here, that was my goal. My goal hasn’t changed. I feel like I’m definitely on path for that.”
And Coombs’ approach to the position, he said, will not only aid him in reaching that level, but will holistically benefit the team.
Roby said compared to last season’s heavy emphasis on press coverage, Coombs has the cornerbacks playing further off the receivers than ever before.
That, Roby said, allows he and the other corners the freedom and ability to be a “ball hawk” and create turnovers via interceptions.
“I mean, that’s why I play football,” he said. “I just love to make plays.”
Similarly, Howard said playing off is something he’s looking forward to.
“I mean, I feel like we were a press team last year, we didn’t have enough opportunities to make plays on the ball so he came in with a new technique,” he said. “Now we’re getting a lot of chances making plays on the balls and getting good vision on the quarterback.”
By playing off, Roby said he finds himself in a better position to make the play that every corner dreams of in Saturday’s Spring Game.
“I’m trying to get at least one pick-six … it’s going to be there,” he said. “We’re going to have the pressure and they’re going to throw it up. I got to get a pick-six, I didn’t get one all last year, so I want a pick-six for sure.”