Former Maryland coach DJ Durkin, who was fired in October following independent investigations into the death of 19-year-old offensive lineman Jordan McNair during a team workout and the culture of the Terrapins’ football program, will serve as a guest coach at the Atlanta Falcons’ training camp.
Falcons Coach Dan Quinn, who coached alongside Durkin for two seasons at the University of Florida, announced the news on Monday.
“I think it’s a huge advantage that you could have somebody that you respect and can look at some certain things to help your team,” said Quinn, who has invited longtime NFL assistant coach Darrell Bevell and former Packers general manager Ron Wolf to serve as an extra set of eyes at previous training camps since he was hired by the Falcons in 2015.
Durkin, 41, was placed on administrative leave in August while the investigations ran their course. On Oct. 31, one day after the University System of Maryland’s Board of Regents recommended that Durkin be allowed to return to his position, Wallace D. Loh, the president of Maryland’s College Park campus, reversed course. In the face of mounting outrage from state lawmakers, students and media members, Loh announced in a letter to the university community that Durkin had been fired.
Durkin, who went 10-15 in two seasons at Maryland, spent a few days doing “professional development” with Alabama Coach Nick Saban’s staff in December, but has yet to land another full-time coaching job. Quinn said he and the Falcons did their “due diligence” before deciding to invite Durkin to serve as a guest instructor at training camp.
“The fact that I know this coach firsthand and I know what his character is and then the due diligence that goes with that, I would certainly hope that anybody covering the team or the fan base know that I always have the team’s best interest in mind, and would never put anybody into a space that would be otherwise,” Quinn said.
Durkin and Quinn coached on Will Muschamp’s staff at Florida in 2011 and 2012. In January 2013, the Gators promoted Durkin to defensive coordinator to replace Quinn, who was hired by the Seattle Seahawks to fill the same role. Durkin spent one year as the defensive coordinator at Michigan before Maryland hired him to replace Randy Edsall before the 2016 season.
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