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Texas A&M Football

Texas A&M hires Ole Miss' D.J. Durkin as defensive coordinator

January 5, 2022
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Jimbo Fisher has his guy.

Texas A&M hires Ole Miss’ D.J. Durkin to become the defensive coordinator of the Aggies, replacing Mike Elko, who left the A&M program to become the head coach at Duke last month. Durkin, 43, spent the last two seasons under Lane Kiffin in Oxford, helping the Rebels to a Sugar Bowl appearance this year.

TexAgs’ executive editor Billy Liucci was first to report the news that Durkin’s deal with the Aggies is complete.

Durkin’s hybrid scheme, which was based out of a four-man front prior to his time at Ole Miss, should allow the Aggie defense to capitalize on a stockpile of defensive line talent from recent recruiting classes. He also brings the reputation of an extremely strong recruiter to a program that has been described as many as a “recruiting monster” under Fisher.

Arriving at Ole Miss in 2020, Durkin’s defensive statistics were skewed largely by the potency of Kiffin’s offense. While the Rebels finished 4-5 against an all-SEC schedule and defeated No. 11 Indiana in the Outback Bowl, they allowed 38.3 points per game and were 118th in the country. That season, opponents raked up 519.0 yards per game, and only North Texas allowed more (522.7).

The Rebels improved slightly in 2021, allowing 429.1 yards per game through the regular season. Durkin’s unit held five opponents under 20 points as they ultimately won 10 games and earned Ole Miss’ first Sugar Bowl berth since 2015. In the New Year's Day bout with Baylor, the Rebels held the Big 12 champions to 21 points and 40 yards through the air in a 21-7 loss.

Durkin’s coaching journey began in 2001 at his alma mater Bowling Green under Urban Meyer. After two years as a graduate assistant at Bowling Green, Durkin spent two seasons as a GA at Notre Dame under head coach Tyrone Willingham and defensive coordinator Kent Baer from 2003-04.

In 2005, Durkin returned to Bowling Green as part of Gregg Brandon’s staff. He spent two seasons working with defensive ends, linebackers and special teams before joining Jim Harbaugh's staff at Stanford. He spent three seasons in Palo Alto (2007-09) coaching defensive ends and special teams before reuniting with Meyer at Florida in 2010, working with linebackers and special teams.

Kim Klement/USA Today Sports
Durkin had been a candidate for the Texas A&M defensive coordinator job once before while at Florida.

When Meyer retired for the first time following the 2010 season, Will Muschamp retained Durkin and was ultimately made defensive coordinator of the Gators in 2013. That season, Durkin’s defense ranked eighth nationally in yards per game (314.3) and 15th in points per game (21.1) despite losing eight games. In 2014, the Gators ranked 15th in yards per game (329.8) and 20th in scoring defense (21.1). Muschamp was fired prior to Florida's Birmingham Bowl matchup with East Carolina, and with Durkin serving as the interim head coach, the Gators prevailed, 28-20.

Reuniting with Harbaugh at Michigan in 2015, Durkin’s lone season as defensive coordinator in Ann Arbor saw the Wolverines go 10-3 and ranked fourth in the nation in yards per game (280.7). Michigan capped off the season with a 41-7 drubbing of Florida in the Citrus Bowl. That single campaign was good enough to land Durkin the head coaching position at the University of Maryland.

In his first season leading the Terrapins, Durkin's team finished 6-7 in 2016 with an appearance in the Quick Lane Bowl. That year, Maryland’s defense ranked 76th in yards per game (427.1) and 74th in points per game (29.5). The Terps ultimately regressed to 4-8 in 2017 despite beating Texas in Austin. Durkin was suspended in August of 2018 following the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair and subsequently fired that October after multiple investigations into the matter.

Prior to coaching, Durkin starred as a wide receiver and an outside linebacker at Bowling Green from 1997-2000. He started 33 games in his career, making 131 tackles and 28 tackles for loss. Durkin served as a team captain during his final two seasons with the Falcons.

Fisher & Co. hopes Durkin can pick up where Elko left off as the Aggie defense has returned to prominence, ranking 14th with 316.6 yards per game in 2020 and 16th with 327.5 this season.

Discussion from...

Texas A&M hires Ole Miss' D.J. Durkin as defensive coordinator

23,548 Views | 37 Replies | Last: 14 days ago by GigEmTx
Not_A_Golfer
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AG
Great hire! Welcome to Aggieland, Coach Durkin!
AgBQ-00
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AG
Quote:

The Terps ultimately regressed to 4-8 in 2017 despite beating Texas in Austin.
CLOL

ETA: Looking forward to his defenses tearing it up here in Aggieland!
Charlie 31
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BOOM!!!
merch
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Well poop. Gotta admit I'm not thrilled with hire. Hopefully it works out.
Nothing looks more foolish than tradition to those who have none.
cageybee77
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AG
Whoop!! Wrong emoji
Rock1982
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AG
Whoop!
abj9562
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I'll adopt a wait and see attitude on this hire.
goosespn
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merch said:

Well poop. Gotta admit I'm not thrilled with hire. Hopefully it works out.

Someone had to be the first downer. You win the trophy!! Now back to your safe space.
merch
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Funny. I'm not young enough to need a safe place! My safe place is wherever I am.

It's ok that some of us are not thrilled with the hire.

Like I said, hope it works out. If he can't be extremely successful here, he will have nothing and nobody but himself to blame. Talk about a person with absolutely zero excuses at his disposal.
Nothing looks more foolish than tradition to those who have none.
AWP 97
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abj9562 said:

I'll adopt a wait and see attitude on this hire.


This is my attitude, as well.
TAM85
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I expect him to be successful here working under Jimbo.
merch
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His defense at Ole Miss was bad because of potency of Lanes offense? That makes no sense. A good offense doesn't make your defense bad.

If reporter means to say fast paced offense leads to more defensive snaps, etc., that is entirely different. But even that only holds so much water and no excuse to be one of worst in the country!
Nothing looks more foolish than tradition to those who have none.
RGbadger
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Hope he can be elite with the talent he will have to work with.
L. R. Nelson
sincereag
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His coaching resume is outstanding. He played and started his coaching career at the Bowling Green football factory of coaches. Has worked under Harbaugh at Stanford and Mich, Meyer at Florida, Willingham at ND, Muschamp (with DC Dan Quinn) at Florida and Kiffen at Ole Miss. Has head coaching experience and he's only 43 years of age...DJ comes to Aggieland ready to build the nation's best defense!
TAM85
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merch said:

His defense at Ole Miss was bad because of potency of Lanes offense? That makes no sense. A good offense doesn't make your defense bad.

If reporter means to say fast paced offense leads to more defensive snaps, etc., that is entirely different. But even that only holds so much water and no excuse to be one of worst in the country!
You need to listen to the Chris Landry episode from this week. He will explain it to you.
merch
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I may do that, would be nice to hear why only one school gave up more yards per game than they did in 2020, while also giving up a ton of points. Was it because the offense was so potent?
Nothing looks more foolish than tradition to those who have none.
zwicker
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vettmaster99
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AG
Yikes. :/ Looks like a bad hire on paper. Hope it works out though.
sonnysixkiller
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This was a shocker thought we were in the drivers seat to make a big splash considering the great job the coaching staff did recruiting but this is a head scratcher and one with some past issues. There is a huge difference in mike elko and his principles and this hire.
SABUILDERAG
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A bunch of stud defensive players have been aware of this hire for a while and decided to sign up, so that seems like a good start. I liked what I saw from his group against Baylor until they ran out of gas. With the depth we are building that should not be an issue for him in Aggieland.
AGDAD14
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I wonder if Baylor could have made this "great hire" without a PR disaster?
TAMU74
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Welcome Coach Durkin
“Social media is the damnation of this world.” Jimbo Fisher. Amen.
TAM85
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He gets into some detail about complementary scheme balance and other stuff and how that may work with what Jimbo does offensively. I cannot summarize and give it justice. Chris Landry strikes me as a pretty sharp football guy.
Wearetheaggies
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merch said:

His defense at Ole Miss was bad because of potency of Lanes offense? That makes no sense. A good offense doesn't make your defense bad.

If reporter means to say fast paced offense leads to more defensive snaps, etc., that is entirely different. But even that only holds so much water and no excuse to be one of worst in the country!


I know you've taken a couple of hits for this, but a rush offense like Ole Miss can make it hard on the defense to stay healthy and not get winded. Just hope the fake injuries/stalling tactics were Kiffin's brainchild and not his.
Fedup
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I'm glad he's on board
cs69ag
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AG
Great hire! Good write up except stopping short of the rest of the information re Maryland.
Because he was the head coach he was suspended pending an investigation. He was reinstated
by their Board, after the investigation, but. one day later the University President fired him based on some pressure.
AggieDadxTwo
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Those of you saying his defense was bad seem to have forgotten that his defense beat A&M this season and Ole Miss finished the regular season ranked 8th. A&M was 25th. And he did that with the crappy recruiting that others had been able to attract to Mississippi before he arrived. He learned under a handful of very well known and successful coaches and has been a head coach. I predict that with the level of talent he has to work with now along with the quality of the program overall, he will be be very successful. I noted it was also mentioned that he was a naturally good recruiter. Now he has A&M to sell rather than Mississippi. Jimbo knows what he is doing.
The Agly Duckling
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Hell Yeah! 'Dis gon' be gud!!!!!!!!!

(Sorry, don't have the meme.)
W
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Durkin will be fine.

like most D.C.'s...when he has elite talent to work with...he will field a great defense.

A&M has elite talent
Divining Rod
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underwhelmed.

if we pull the same **** ole miss did faking injuries every time an O gained momentum….

to see Durkins' defensive coaches tugging on their forearms to signal their player to drop…. F that!

Maybe Durkin will grow a pair and play D with sportsmanship this year. We'll see.
Divining Rod
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DimebagsGhost
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Divining Rod said:


probably more Kiffin than Durkin
Divining Rod
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thinking same…. but wouldnt you tell Kiffin to shove it? and dont tell me about his millions dollar salary- you think Kiffin would dare fire him over that? and Durkin woild be a hot commidity in amy event.
AggieDadxTwo
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So I'm confused. You first said you are "underwhelmed" with Durkin. And then in your next post you say he "would be a hot commodity". Which is it?

The reality is that he will likely do many things differently at A&M because he will have the resources and talent to do so.

Bottom line; I trust Jimbo's judgment. He is the one with a national championship under his belt and now the top ranked recruiting class in NCAA history. Just sit back and enjoy the ride.
Bobaloo
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Saban hired Kiffen, Sarkisian and Bill O'Brien as OCs the last few years. Coaches coming off difficult situations. Would love to see some of the comments from the pot bangers on this board had we done the same and those coaches enjoyed the same success.
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