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DJ Durkin draws on Florida interim experience at Maryland

"I want to recruit guys that embrace that competition. So, to me, it's an easy sell," said Maryland's new football coach DJ Durkin when asked about recruiting. (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun video)

COLLEGE PARK — While Maryland is his first full-time coaching job, DJ Durkin doesn't enter his time with the Terps without any head coaching experience.

Former Florida coach Will Muschamp was fired Nov. 16, 2014, and after he coached the final two games of the regular season, he left the program. That left Durkin, Muschamp's defensive coordinator and in his fifth year as a Gators assistant, to take over as interim coach for the team's bowl game.

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Durkin ran the team for about a month that culminated in a 28-20 win over East Carolina in the Birmingham Bowl on Jan. 3.

"Although it was a short-lived amount of time, it was an unbelievable experience," Durkin said Thursday at his introductory news conference. "[Florida athletic director] Jeremy Foley was great to me, a great guy to do that under. I appreciate him for entrusting me to do that. You never think totally that way until you sit in that seat and you have to think big picture-wise."

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The circumstances in which Durkin took over were unique because he learned in mid-December that he wouldn't be retained by new Florida coach Jim McElwain. So Durkin -- who became Michigan's defensive coordinator -- had to lead the Gators with an uncertain future of his own. Still, it gave Durkin his first taste of life as a coach in charge of all dimensions of a program, and it struck a chord with him and his philosophy.

"I think it really, if nothing else, reiterated to me what is important about coaching," Durkin said. "I think we had a group of guys right there that went and played in the game that was, in many ways, probably not what they were intending to do when their careers set out at Florida. And what they did was [they] came together and played really well, played a really good team and won the game."

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