Durkin Getting To Know His Guys

D.J. Durkin

Gator assistant football coach D.J. Durkin is still in the process of getting to know his players prior to the start of spring practice March 17. Part of that is because he's still not quite certain which players are his. The Florida coaching staff is now set, but coaching assignments are still being worked out at this point.

D.J. Durkin said he's not completely in the dark about his new job. The former Stanford assistant will coach at least some of the Gator linebackers and will definitely coordinate Gator special teams. That's one area where you will see an obvious delegation of authority by Gator head coach Urban Meyer.

Durkin played his college ball at Bowling Green and got his first coaching opportunity when Meyer took over that program and hired him as a graduate assistant. Durkin talked about how he got to view the Meyer way of doing things.

"I did get to see it first hand right from the start. You talk about a guy coming in and changing the entire culture and the way things are done at a place. It was invaluable to me in my coaching career and obviously he's had great success at a number of places. He has a plan to win and it works."

Meyer has made an emphasis of special teams from day one and it's the part of the team he has been most hands on with on game day. Durkin said Meyer won't disappear from that area entirely.

"I coordinated special teams for three years at Stanford and also at Bowling Green before that. It's something I've done for a while now. Florida's had great special teams here and Coach Meyer is the guy that's run those. There's not going to be a lot that's going to change about special teams. We'll have involvement in that, but things have been done really well around here. It's no a matter of coming in and having to do things different. So I'm excited just to have the chance to work with special teams and with Coach Meyer."

Durkin said while they are still sorting out the specific assignments on the coaching staff he has been able to start learning about the linebackers that are already on hand. And he likes what he sees.

"The two guys that you get to see play really big in games are Brandon Hicks and A.J. Jones. Athletically (you look at) Brandon Hicks, I don't know if there's a better guy. He can still grow a bunch. He's young in terms of development of fundamentals and techniques and those things. But that kid is a heck of an athlete so I'm really looking excited to coach him. A.J. Jones, that guy makes a lot of plays. I wasn't here for the entire season last year and all that but when you watch tape you see that guy show up and make plays. Some of those younger guys (Jon) Bostic and Jelani (Jenkins) I remember those guys when they were coming up through the recruiting process as well and watching them on tape. I know they have a ton of ability and I'm excited to get the chance to coach them."

Durkin said his history with Meyer combined with the status of the Gator program near the top of the college football world made an easy decision to accept the job, despite being in a pretty good situation out West.

"With all due respect, Stanford is a great program and Jim Harbaugh is a great head coach and a great guy and I enjoyed every minute of being there. But absolutely the chance to come here and coach the best players in the country at the best program in the country for the best head coach in the country that's a deal you can't pass up."

And while Durkin is not to the Gators, he's not completely unfamiliar with the SEC.

"I'm excited about experiencing it. When I was at the University of Notre Dame we played Tennessee. That was my first game in an SEC Stadium and they were pretty loud and rowdy. I've heard about The Swamp, but I haven't been in it for a game yet. In any profession, whatever you're in you want to be at the top and be the best. That's what this place is, so I'm very excited about it."

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