By: Matt Callaway, Athletics Communications
BRYAN-COLLEGE STATION, Texas – One of the nation’s top defensive minds, veteran coach DJ Durkin has joined the Texas A&M football staff as defensive coordinator, head coach Jimbo Fisher announced.
“We are excited to welcome DJ [Durkin] as our new defensive coordinator,” Fisher said. “He has done a tremendous job being multiple in his looks that cause problems for opposing offenses. In addition to being an excellent recruiter, DJ has done a great job of developing his players and has experience in the SEC.”
Durkin joins the Aggies’ staff after directing the defense and coaching the linebackers at Ole Miss for the past two seasons. The Youngstown, Ohio native also helped spearhead successful units at Michigan and Florida, among other stops during his 20-year coaching career.
“I look forward to working with Coach Fisher, the Aggie football staff and the excellent players Coach has assembled,” Durkin said. “I know the 12th Man supports Aggie football. I was at Kyle Field for Texas A&M’s first SEC home game back in 2012 and the atmosphere was electric. We will play with great effort that the 12th Man will be proud of.”
In addition to his significant experience on the field, Durkin has been equally accomplished on the recruiting trail. The Rivals’ Recruiter of the Year in 2012, Durkin has helped ink nine top-25 classes, including five which ranked in the top 10 nationally. During his time with the Gators, Durkin helped land four straight top-11 recruiting classes and nine five-star prospects.
Prior to his time in Oxford, Durkin spent one season in the NFL as a consultant for the Atlanta Falcons in 2018 after serving as the head coach at Maryland for the 2016 and 2017 seasons. He doubled the Terrapins’ win total during his first season at the helm and excelled on the recruiting trail, bringing in consecutive top-30 signing classes for the first time in program history.
Prior to Maryland, Durkin served as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Michigan, leading a defensive unit that ranked fourth in the country. Under Durkin, the Wolverines 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’s immediate impact in Ann Arbor was also displayed in player development. Michigan had nine defensive All-Big Ten honorees, including a pair of first-team defensive backs: Jourdan Lewis and Jabrill Peppers. In addition, three Wolverines (Ryan Glasgow, Lewis and Peppers,) were named semifinalists for national defensive awards in 2015.
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 yards/game) and the eighth-best (314.2 yards/game) 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.
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). The Gators were sixth nationally 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. 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 teams coordinator and linebackers coach at Florida. 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.
Prior to Florida, Durkin spent three seasons at Stanford coaching defensive ends and special teams. Under Durkin’s tutelage, Stanford’s defensive ends helped the Cardinal rank 11th nationally in sacks per game in 2007 and 2009. Durkin also helped the Cardinal bring in its highest ranked recruiting class in eight years in 2009.
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.
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.
Durkin and his wife Sarah have one daughter, Abigail, and one son, Luke.
Fisher also announced title changes for other defensive staff members. Elijah Robinson is now the assistant head coach/run game coordinator/defensive line coach, while Tyler Santucci is the co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach.