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Friday, December 7, 2012
What if .... UF's D.J. Durkin left?

By Michael DiRocco

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – D.J. Durkin has been a valuable member of Florida coach Will Muschamp’s staff, both as a linebackers coach/special teams coordinator and a recruiter. But he’s not going to be around forever.

Durkin is headed for a coordinator’s job, and there are plenty of jobs available across the country. What if Durkin were to leave Florida? What kind of impact would that have on the Gators’ recruiting?

D.J. Durkin
Gators special teams coordinator/linebackers coach D.J. Durkin was originally hired by Urban Meyer.
Potentially a pretty significant one.

Durkin proved his recruiting prowess last February by signing four of North Carolina’s top 14 players (DE Jonathan Bullard, OT D.J. Humphries, DB Rhaheim Ledbetter and DE Alex McCalister). He’s doing it again by getting Florida back into the mix for a pair of highly sought-after 2013 prospects: five-star CB Mackensie Alexander (Immokalee, Fla./Immokalee) and four-star OLB Matt Rolin (Ashburn, Va./Briar Woods), who is committed to South Carolina.

Alexander and Rolin rank fifth and 76th, respectively, in the ESPN 150. Losing Durkin would be a blow to the Gators’ chances of landing either of those players.

The Gators already have commitments from a trio of 2013 linebackers: Daniel McMillian (Jacksonville, Fla./First Coast), Quinton Powell (Daytona Beach, Fla./Mainland) and James Hearns (Tallahassee, Fla./Lincoln). All three, however, are planning on taking visits to other schools. Durkin has already built solid relationships with all three, and losing Durkin could certainly impact their decision on whether to stick with their commitment or re-open their recruitment.

Durkin also is recruiting 2014 uncommitted linebackers Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty) and Dillon Bates (Ponte Vedra, Fla./Ponte Vedra). His departure wouldn’t mean the Gators couldn’t sign either player, but he has begun to build a relationship with them.

UF coach Will Muschamp has said he has no problem with his assistant coaches leaving for promotions. Durkin’s star is certainly rising, and he’s going to get an opportunity to be a defensive coordinator somewhere. If it’s not at Florida, then this what-if scenario becomes reality.