D.J. Durkin is Florida's new defensive coordinator, as first reported by Gator Country's Andrew Spivey. Durkin, Florida's current linebackers coach and special teams coordinator, replaces the outgoing Dan Quinn, who was named the Seattle Seahawks' defensive coordinator earlier on Thursday, in that role.
Durkin has been on staff at Florida since 2010, when Urban Meyer brought him over from Jim Harbaugh's staff at Stanford, and he has served in both roles he currently holds since then. Prior to being at Florida, Durkin spent time as a graduate assistant at Bowling Green under Meyer and at Notre Dame, returned to Bowling Green as defensive ends coach before shifting to coaching linebackers and special teams, and coached defensive ends and special teams at Stanford under Harbaugh.
As a branch of the Meyer, Harbaugh, and now Will Muschamp coaching trees, Durkin has clearly done enough to earn respect within the coaching ranks, and has been considered a likely future head coach. The performance of his special teams units at Florida in 2012 has a lot to do with that: Florida kicker Caleb Sturgis and punter Kyle Christy were each finalists for the highest honor at their positions, and the Gators' special teams units were extremely disruptive all season, making game-changing plays on a weekly basis.
In addition, Durkin's linebackers improved considerably in 2012, with both Jon Bostic and Jelani Jenkins looking like NFL Draft prospects after underwhelming 2011 campaigns, and Antonio Morrison growing to be Florida's finest freshman by the end of the season.
But Durkin's best quality is likely his recruiting ability, which earned him Rivals' Recruiter of the Year honor in 2012 after he was instrumental in landing five-star prospects D.J. Humphries and Jonathan Bullard.
It will be interesting to see if Florida shifts more responsibility for defensive game-planning to Muschamp to allow Durkin to continue his tireless work on the recruiting trail or hires another dynamic recruiter to make up for Durkin having to take on more schematic responsibility.