DJ Durkin on Auburn football and second chances

New Auburn football defensive coordinator DJ Durkin addresses his past and his decision to join the Tigers.

Sep 30, 2017; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Maryland Terrapins head coach DJ Durkin looks on during pre game
Sep 30, 2017; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Maryland Terrapins head coach DJ Durkin looks on during pre game / Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
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New Auburn football defensive coordinator DJ Durkin addresses his past and his decision to join the Tigers

In 2018, DJ Durkin was fired from his position as head coach of Maryland football after backlash ensued following his reinstatement after the death of player Jordan McNair and an ESPN report that described a "toxic culture" surrounding the football program.

Since then, Durkin has held two other full time positions at Ole Miss and Texas A&M, and now he is the defensive coordinator for head coach Hugh Freeze and Auburn football. Durkin doesn't deny making mistakes in his past, but believes he deserves a second chance at having a coaching career.

“Second chance at a coaching career, I think all along — the people that know you and have been around you, they know you," Durkin said, per The Montgomery Advertiser. "I think those opportunities are provided by people that have done their homework and know who I am as a person and what I stand for as a coach. That’s it. That would be someone else’s question to answer. Not mine.

“I think there’s evolution always, I think in life, in coaching. I’m different this year than I was from last year. You always learn. You look back, reflect and say, ‘OK. What are things I could’ve done differently (or) done better.’ That’s part of improvement. We always do it with our players, obviously, as coaches. Let’s do it for ourselves, too. Evaluate how we can do things better and differently. I think if you’re not growing and learning as a person, then what are you doing?”

Durkin is now surrounded by a group of assistants that he has never worked with, and has less than a year to whip the Auburn football defense into shape. It's a somewhat daunting task, but Durkin was convinced by other coaches that Auburn was the place for him to be.

“I could not find one person that said anything but it was their favorite place to live,” said Durkin, per Auburn Rivals. “It was really a family-based decision for me. I think how coach Freeze runs his program, what’s important to him and how family is very included, that’s how this decision was made.”

He also noted that he has built a strong relationship with co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Charles Kelly, who was also recently hired by the program. Kelly and Durkin are just two of the many new additions to the coaching staff made ahead of Hugh Freeze's second year on the Plains, a year in which the Tigers have a lot to prove.

Spring practices continues for Auburn football this week, and will end on April 6 with the A-Day spring scrimmage.