WagerWire Report: The Gareon Conley Interview

Gareon Conley, former Ohio State Buckeye and 2017 1st round draft pick to the then Oakland Raiders, sat down for a WagerWire Live Twitter Space hosted by Zeke, Amber Holley, and Carolina on Monday October 10th, 2022.

Initially, as a 4-star cornerback recruit, Gareon Conley committed to the University of Michigan, but his eventual decommitment and commitment to Ohio State happened in a unique way.

Gareon grew up playing basketball, with not much interest in football. He didn't play football his freshman year of High School but decided to play his sophomore year on the JV team, although playing time was scarce.

His Junior year, he would make the move to Cornerback, a position he never played in his life, but played well enough to receive his first two offers; The first from Northwestern, the second from Michigan.

"It was a big thing for everybody at the school, and I didn't know anything about it. I was like 'oh I got a big offer so I'm going to verbally commit.' I really thought that's what you were supposed to do. I didn't know anything about it."

Gareon may not have known anything about it then, but he found out quickly how things worked when he expressed to Michigan his desire to visit other schools.

I wanted to visit other schools and they were like 'We don't want you to visit other schools, if you visit other schools we will pull your scholarship.' So I'm like, you're going to pull my scholarship? Alright well I'm going to decommit."

A conversation between Gareon, Mike Vrabel, and Head Coach Urban Meyer was enough to make him commit to Ohio State University. A decision that would result in a National Championship despite star quarterback JT Barrett going down with an injury.

When speaking about the National Championship run in 2014, Gareon says he wasn't surprised at all with how well Cardale Jones played in place of Barrett. He also spoke to the talent of Joe Burrow and that entire quarterback room as a whole.

"When we went to practice we knew we couldn't slouch. There's no such thing as a scout team at Ohio State. Anybody that's a back up there is ready to play at any time. That's why Cardale was ready to step up and play when JT went down. That's how they train us. So yeah, Joe (Burrow) was definitely good even before he went to LSU and won a National Championship, for sure."

Gareon Conley has played for some controversial coaches during his time in college and in the NFL. During the interview, he touched on his relationship with both Urban Meyer at Ohio State and his relationship with Jon Gruden in the NFL with the Raiders.

Gareon says he had a good relationship with Urban and he really had nothing bad to say. He realizes everybody has different experiences and relationships with the coaching staff, but his experience was a good one.

He did tell a funny Urban Meyer story, involving some chirping during practice back and forth between Urban and Gareon which resulted in Gareon being removed from practice. The story was told in a lighthearted manor; something Gareon can look back at and laugh about now.

"We went at it sometimes because he didn't like to be talked back to. But at practice it's competitive and I was competitive too. At practice one time, he kicked me off the field because I said something back. I think it was Noah Brown and JT (Barrett) were working on their back shoulder fades and I broke it up. He (Urban Meyer) looked at the ref, because we had refs at practice, and he thought it was a flag and the ref didn't throw it. He said, "That's not a flag?" And I was like, "He didn't throw the F-in flag did he?" And he kicked me off the field."

When it was time for Gareon to explain what it was like to have Jon Gruden as a coach, he said this,

I'm not trying to bash the guy, but he just wasn't the coach for me. But like, it's the same thing as Urban, everybody has their personal relationships. I don't feel like he was the coach for me. He just didn't motivate me, he didn't understand me, and we were never on the same page honestly. That's all I can say about him."

Of all the coaches Gareon played for, Coach Kerry Coombs is the guy that he enjoyed playing for the most. He also gave praise to his High School Coach, John Miller, somebody Gareon credits for getting him comfortable enough to play cornerback at the next level.

Currently, Coach Kerry Coombs is the Special Teams Coordinator and Cornerbacks coach for the Cincinatti Bearcats, but between the years of 2012 and 2017, he was coaching cornerbacks and special teams at Ohio State. Coombs also had another one year stint in 2020 as Defensive coordinator with the program.

It was during Coach Coombs first stint with Ohio State when he would coach Gareon and teach him not only how to be a better football player, but a better person.

"He is energetic. That's one of the reasons why I get motivated and have self motivation. He taught me how to be self motivated. He says he wakes up everyday and gets up at the end of his bed and claps his hands and says "today is going to be a great day." And I'll never forget that. That changed my whole mindset about how I go about my days."

Gareon said this in another segment about Coach Kerry Coombs,

"I talk to Coach Coombs more than I talk to any coach I've known at Ohio State. I had a real good relationship with Coach Coombs. He taught me more than football. How to be a man, how to be a good partner in a relationship, how to be a man mentally. So I definitely love him and (Luke) Fickle."

Gareon Conley is currently a free agent, rehabbing from nerve surgery that he had in April. He's working his way back to the NFL gridiron in hopes that it happens sooner rather than later.

We are so thankful that Gareon gave us some insight into his experiences at the college football and professional level and we hope to have him back soon!

Catch the audio interview here! https://twitter.com/i/spaces/1YqGoAMldrzxv

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Original photo credit/ Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports via https://www.cincyjungle.com/2017/4/10/15246702/ohio-state-cb-gareon-conley-visiting-bengals

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