A Random Profile on D.J. Durkin

Submitted by alum96 on December 23rd, 2014 at 9:50 PM

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.





December 23rd, 2014 at 10:03 PM ^

First, I'm not clear why Fickell is employed by OSU . He did apparrently interview for this Pitt job.  That said Meyer has been sort of "de-emphasizing" him.  He hired Chris Ash, another young gun DC out of Arkansas who had extensive experience at Wisconsin before he left Wiscy with Big Bert in 2013.  He was 40 years old at the time so was probably another in demand guy with experience - Ash was a DC for 3 yrs before Urban hired him to be co-DC at OSU.  At the time of that hire Durkin had all of 1 year of DC experience.

With Fickell in 2013 OSU's pass defense was 110th in the nation.  With Ash, it improved to 17th.  Think Urbz knows what he is doing.  Ash was reportedly being vetted for the CSU job that eventually went to Bobo.


December 23rd, 2014 at 11:27 PM ^

Thanks Erik.  Seems like they have been encouraging Fickell to go forth in the world the past 2 years but he hasn't been successful.  Sort of funny in a way.  "Can't get rid of this guy in the office no matter what we do!"


December 23rd, 2014 at 9:57 PM ^

I actually think it's basically the ideal setup if he co-DC's with Mattison.  It should be a great mix of old and young, he'll learn a lot from Mattison that will add to his already impressive resume.

And both are fantastic recruiters and high-energy guys.  Couldn't ask for much more on D side of the ball, which is not Harbaugh's individual specialty


December 23rd, 2014 at 11:56 PM ^

Mattison's role at UF was essentially that of glorified position coach while Charlie Strong called plays. I'm assuming that's what we'd have here... Mattison is simply on the hook for a few more years and might help Durkin through some aspects of the job he didn't have to deal while working for a defensive head coach in Muschamp.


December 23rd, 2014 at 10:13 PM ^

It would be interesting if they decide to go that route in a totally hypothetical situation with a future coach of a hypothetical nature.

Meyer actually did this for 2-3 years down at UF with Mattison and Charlie Strong. 

It is a positive this guy has been in defensive meetings with Muschamp for 4 years because while a not so great HC he is an elite DC.   What does appear clear is Durkin is one of those high energy guy but less scowly and more happy than a lot of high energy guys.  And apparently a hell of a recruiter.  And a special teams coach demon.  

As for his defenses, hard to separate any individual achievements down at Florida from Muschamp (parallel to Herman v Urban) so jury will be out on that end until those 2 are independent entities which will happen in 2015.  Somewhere.


Sione's Flow

December 23rd, 2014 at 10:05 PM ^

Well he seems like he could be useful. Him and Manning on the recruiting trail with Mattison as the closer. I'd almost pity other schools in the BIG, if I didn't want to see UM throttling them week in and week out.


December 23rd, 2014 at 10:04 PM ^

Still can't believe the college "tempo" offenses gave GMat's defenses as many fits as they did.  The Rutgers game was just unforgiveable.


Not putting the cart before the horse, but what caught my eye in that writeup was the mention of him being a HC someday soon.  I'm not seeing any NFL situations where Harbaugh could in 3-5 years jump to an NFL contender when an NFL coach retires (though I don't really see a situation a coach could "walk into" that has a franchise level QB that could win quickly) but you never know.


It'd be nice for a Michigan coach to reestablish something of a coaching tree too.


December 23rd, 2014 at 10:17 PM ^

Yes, when trolling for articles on young Durkin I came upon one on Harbaugh's Stanford coaching tree and it is already extensive from just 4 years there.  We all know about Shaw but there arre now multiple guys promoted at higher level jobs in the NFL and out.  And not just not at San Fran.  His OL coach who he had all his years at San Diego, Stanford, and first 3 years at San Fran is now the OL coach at USC for example.  His tree is bountiful already.

As for a Durkin type you would not expect him to last at UM very long - see Herman, Ash, and the interest the Meyer guys get.  If you see a 38-40 year old coach who is successful under a high profile coach that is exactly who mid majors are going to take a chance on if they go the coordinator route. 

But long term I am ok with this - we need our seed spread throughout the football universe.  No more Carr situation where there is no tree out there - if there are 6 viable candidates to take over in 7-10 years, that would only benefit UM.


December 24th, 2014 at 1:40 AM ^

Harbaugh's Stanford coaching tree and it is already extensive from just 4 years there.

Music to my ears.  JH is not just filling the ranks of his assistants with his old buddies or the next guy in line.  One of the true measures of a caoch is his coaching tree.



December 23rd, 2014 at 10:20 PM ^

If he's in, that would be a great hire. Not only as a DC, but as a potential in-house replacement for Harbaugh should he jump back to the NFL at one point. 

Not to get ahead of myself of course....


December 23rd, 2014 at 10:36 PM ^

D.J. Durkin always intrigued me. Part of it was that he is approximately my age and holding jobs liked defensive coordinator at this level and I am not, but also because his scheme, as I understand it, is flexible and allows for decent adjustment. I haven't seen many Florida games, but he tends to go with a 4-3 base with situational 3-4 looks - I could live with that. We have the personnel to make such a thing work.


December 23rd, 2014 at 10:50 PM ^

Best I can tell is Durkin will still coach the bowl game - recent stories read as a "lame duck staff" from 3 days ago so it looks like Florida has the same advantage OSU had a few years back when Fickell coached the bowl and Urban was busy recruiting.  So we'll get a chance to watch him closer in their bowl.


December 23rd, 2014 at 11:08 PM ^

If alum96 is going to keep doing these for assistants/coordinators, can we get this moved to a diary? 

This is an actually well researched thread than all of the random Harbaugh threads we've had lately. I'd hate to see this lost in the shuffle.


December 24th, 2014 at 12:39 AM ^

Nicely done. Thanks for the info. Trading our OC to UF for their DC is a great deal for us based on how those two units performed under their previous coaching staffs. I like it.

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Autocracy Now

December 24th, 2014 at 1:21 AM ^

Seems like a very good option. I would also love someone with good experience in recruiting SEC territory. We gotta lock down more of those kids. I know it seems like a long shot now, but I believe we could entice some of the talent down there if we make it a priority. 


December 24th, 2014 at 3:50 AM ^

Really, really like DJ Durkin. If the staff is really what some have reported, the youthful nature alone will help us out. I can't wait til this is finally pen to paper.