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Thursday, January 17, 2013
Promoting Durkin smart move

By Michael DiRocco

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Will Muschamp’s search for a new defensive coordinator didn’t last very long.

Just two hours after Dan Quinn was named the defensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks, Muschamp promoted D.J. Durkin to replace Quinn.

D.J. Durkin
The Gators' new defensive coordinator/linebackers coach D.J. Durkin was originally hired by Urban Meyer.
Durkin has been UF’s linebackers coach and special-teams coordinator for the past three seasons. He joined UF’s staff in 2010 under former coach Urban Meyer and was one of three assistant coaches Muschamp retained for his inaugural staff.

"I’m happy for Dan and this opportunity," Muschamp said in a statement. "I’ve said before that I always encourage my staff when opportunities arise to take the next step in their career. Dan’s background is in the NFL and this is a great chance to go back to a place he’s familiar with.

"D.J. and I will run the defense, continuing the way that Dan and I did for the past two years. We will look to add another coach that is the best fit for our staff moving forward."

Durkin will continue to coach the linebackers.

Promoting Durkin is a smart move on Muschamp’s part. Durkin was eventually going to want to become a defensive coordinator, and Muschamp risked losing him in a year or so had he hired someone else to replace Quinn. It also keeps perhaps the team’s best recruiter on staff.

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). Bullard and Humphries made significant contributions as freshmen and are expected to step into starting roles this season.

Durkin also helped land four-star OLB Matt Rolin (Ashburn, Va./Briar Woods), who was committed to South Carolina but flipped and enrolled early. The Gators also have commitments from LBs Daniel McMillian (Jacksonville, Fla./First Coast) and James Hearns (Tallahassee, Fla./Lincoln). Both should get significant playing time in 2013.

As for whether Durkin is ready to call defensive plays, re-read the second part of Muschamp’s statement. He said he and Durkin will run the defense that he and Quinn ran for the past two seasons. That tells you that Muschamp is essentially the co-defensive coordinator, and it’s likely that he’ll have an even bigger role in 2013.

It also tells you that while players enjoyed played for Quinn and recruits liked him as well, any defensive player who comes to Florida is doing so, in part, to play in Muschamp’s defense.

The Gators have been pretty good the past two seasons. The Gators were fifth nationally in scoring (15.4 ppg), second in pass efficiency defense, and fourth in rush defense (94.9 ypg) in 2012. UF gave up only seven passing touchdowns, which was second only to Boise State (four).

In 2011, the Gators ranked eighth nationally in total defense, seventh nationally in passing defense, and second nationally in third-down defense.

Durkin and Muschamp will have a lot of work ahead of them in 2013. The Gators lose seven starters, including All-American S Matt Elam and potential first-round NFL draft pick DT Sharrif Floyd.