Maryland football: DJ Durkin named head coach
COLLEGE PARK, Md. – D.J. Durkin, one of the brightest young coaching minds in college football, was named the 36th head football coach in Maryland history, Director of Athletics Kevin Anderson announced Wednesday.
Durkin, 37, most recently served as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at the University of Michigan, leading a nationally-renowned defensive unit that is ranked fourth in the country. Under Durkin, the Wolverines have limited opponents to 17.2 points per game in 2015, in addition to shutting out three consecutive opponents – the longest such streak at Michigan in 35 years.
Durkin has also been an outstanding recruiter in his time as an assistant. At Florida, Durkin helped land four straight top-11 recruiting classes and was named Rivals.com’s 2012 Recruiter of the Year as a result. In total, Durkin contributed to the impressive recruitment of nine five-star prospects on the defensive side of the ball during that stretch.
“On behalf of the entire University of Maryland community, I am thrilled to welcome D.J., his wife, Sarah, and their children, Abigail and Luke, to College Park,” Anderson said. “We began this search looking for a candidate with qualities that aligned with our vision for the football program, and throughout the process it became clear D.J. was the perfect fit. He has had success at some of the nation’s most preeminent football programs, is recognized as one of the top recruiters in the country and is widely respected as one the top young coaches across the college football landscape.”
“I want to thank Kevin Anderson, Dr. Loh, Damon Evans and the entire search committee for this incredible opportunity to lead the University of Maryland football program,” said Durkin. “Maryland’s commitment to excellence in the class room, on the field and in the community aligns with my principles of building an elite program. I look forward to bringing an exciting and successful brand of football to our passionate fan base and supporters.”
Durkin’s immediate impact in Ann Arbor has also been displayed in player development. Michigan recently had nine defensive All-Big Ten honorees, including a pair of first team defensive backs: Jourdan Lewis and Jabril Peppers. In addition, three Wolverines (Ryan Glasgow, Lewis and Peppers,) have been named semifinalists for national defensive awards in 2015. The Wolverines improved defense has been a major reason for the program’s four-win improvement over last season and for the team ranking as high as ninth in the nation.
As the defensive coordinator at Florida from 2013-14, Durkin led the Gators to consecutive top-15 rankings in total defense with the 15th-best mark in the country in 2014 (329.0 ypg) and the eighth-best (314.2 ypg) in 2013.
Florida’s 2014 team finished the year ranked in the top-10 in the nation in yards allowed per play (4.45), yards allowed per rush attempt (3.16) and yards allowed per pass attempt (5.9).
The group was highlighted by All-SEC first team selections Dante Fowler Jr., and defensive back Vernon Hargreaves, along with second-team all-conference honoree Antonio Morrison. Fowler was subsequently selected third overall in the 2015 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars. His selection continued a stretch in which Gator defensive players were selected in the first round of three consecutive drafts.
In Durkin’s first season as defensive coordinator, Florida finished first in the SEC and seventh in the country in pass defense (171.8 yards per game), sixth in first downs allowed (16.1 per game) and 15th in scoring defense (21.1 points per game), while allowing only 27 touchdowns, the sixth fewest in the nation in 2013.
Durkin’s coaching paid dividends at the next level when defensive tackle Dominique Easley was drafted by the New England Patriots in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
From 2010-2012, Durkin served as special team coordinator and linebackers coach at Florida and coached under current Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn. Once again, Durkin was a key contributor of a staff that helped produce an NFL first round pick when defensive tackle Shariff Floyd was taken in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft.
As linebackers coach, Durkin tutored Jon Bostic, who finished his career as a second-team All-SEC selection and was drafted in the second round of the NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears in 2013.
Durkin’s coaching on special teams helped produce punter Chas Henry, the winner of the Ray Guy Award in 2011, and kicker Caleb Sturgis, a two-time finalist for the Lou Groza Award who now plays for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Under Durkin's tutelage, Stanford's defensive ends helped the Cardinal rank 11th nationally in sacks per game in 2007 and 2009.
At Stanford, Durkin helped the Cardinal bring in their highest ranked recruiting class in eight years in 2009.
As a graduate assistant at Notre Dame from 2003-04, Durkin worked primarily with defensive ends and helped develop Notre Dame all-time sack leader, All-Pro NFL defensive end and two-time Super Bowl champion Justin Tuck.
As a player, Durkin starred at Bowling Green as a starter at defensive end and outside linebacker from 1997-2000. He led the team in sacks in 1998 and served as a team captain for two seasons. Durkin was honored with numerous team awards including the Ken Schoeni Award for character and toughness, the Carlos Jackson Award personifying the values of a student-athlete and the Leadership Award.
Durkin played under Gary Blackney at Bowling Green. Blackney was Maryland’s defensive coordinator from 2001-05.
He earned his bachelor’s degree in business marketing from Bowling Green in 2001 and his master’s degree in educational administration and supervision in 2004.
A native of Youngstown, Ohio, Durkin and his wife Sarah have one daughter, Abigail, and one son, Luke.