I decided to start a series of posts on random coordinators arround the country. Not sure how long this series may be. For all I know this might be the only post in the series. So I set up a dart board and threw a dart at a series of names and it landed on dude named D.J. Durkin. Totally random. So I decided to go to the interwebs and see what I could dig up. He is an interesting fellow who has coached under Urban Meyer, Will Muschamp and one other random guy.
Some things I found about this random person that is not connected to any other things we discuss here. Durkin is all of 36 years old and hails from football hotbed Youngstown, OH. Tons of Midwest roots in his early coaching days and now has southern experience for 5 years. Currrent salary $490,000.
From Saturday Down South - Meet D.J. Durkin
Durkin is a former defensive end for Bowling Green in his playing days from 1997-2000. He followed up his playing days with the Falcons by assuming the graduate coaching position in 2001-2002, before moving on to Notre Dame in 2003-2004 as a graduate assistant. Durkin’s first headlining coaching position was in 2005, when he returned to Bowling Green to take over the defensive ends. The very next year, he coached the Falcons’ linebackers.
But it wasn’t until 2007 with Stanford that he started to really make a name for himself. Durkin coached the defensive ends and special teams from 2007-2009, becoming a known commodity who even Urban Meyer took note of. Known as a special teams guru himself, Meyer then hired Durkin in 2010 to coach the linebackers and special teams units. Florida’s special teams were regarded as one of the country’s best, blocking 16 punts or kicks in three years. The Gators’ defense also finished top five or better in three years as the linebackers coach.
Upon Quinn’s leaving, the plan was in place, as far as Muschamp was concerned. Durkin had been groomed to become his next coordinator, and there was no doubt Durkin would get the promotion. “Everyone I talked to said he is one of the bright young coaches in college football,” Muschamp said.
Aside from his on-field coaching duties, Durkin is an ace recruiter. Rivals.com named Durkin recruiter of the year in 2012 for reeling in five-stars DJ Humphries and Jonathan Bullard, among others.
From SB Nation's Alligator Army - Florida's D.J. Durkin was a Rising Star Even at Stanford (2013)
But Durkin didn't just impress Muschamp: He impressed Urban Meyer enough at Bowling Green and in his time afterward to get hired at Florida, and impressed Jim Harbaugh enough to be part of his Stanford staff. Durkin is likely going to be a head coach before very long, and may end up being a very good one. And people who have covered Stanford saw that five years ago.
I reached out to our Stanford bloggers at Rule of Tree for their insights on Durkin, and here's what editor Jack Blanchat had to say:
Durkin was always known as an insanely high-energy coach when he was at Stanford, and his special teams units were always well-coached. That intensity definitely carried over to his recruiting abilities, where he helped bring in and develop some of the best players in Stanford history.
...also asked... Wyndam Makowsky, who covered Stanford for the school's paper.
Stanford, back before it became a relevant football school, used to have a fairly lax policy on open practices. Anyone who watched could see that there were players who stood out from the rest of the pack, but it was odd to also see the same phenomenon among coaches. Specifically, this happened with Durkin. Jim Harbaugh was a rare breed of coach--perhaps influenced by his brother's extended stint as an STC--who spent a considerable amount of time on special teams. Some neglect it entirely; Harbaugh would devote whole parts of practice to it.
And that was Durkin's show. He would fly around the field talking, it seemed, to the returner, gunner, punter and long snapper simultaneously. He was enthusiastic and packed an endless amount of energy but more than that, players responded to his coaching almost immediately. Something needed to be fixed? It was fixed. He was 29 and 30 years old during his two seasons on The Farm, yet he commanded the respect of a coach twice his age. Outside of the scrimmages, it was the must-see attraction of open practices.
If you asked any beat writer covering the team during that time, "Who is the rising star on that coaching staff?" I would bet heavily that your response would be unanimously in favor of Durkin. I say that even though now two-time Pac-12 Coach of the Year David Shaw was a coordinator on that same staff. When we lost him to Florida it was on the one hand wholly disappointing, but on the other, was not unexpected.