Four things DJ Durkin looks for in a Maryland recruit

Maryland first-year football coach DJ Durkin on signing day and what it means for the program. (Baltimore Sun video)

In his two months as Maryland coach, DJ Durkin has made it clear he has a plan for how he runs his program. He targeted assistant coaches form a variety of backgrounds, forming a staff that's a mix of seasoned and young, and he has expanded the reach of the Terps' recruiting efforts into Florida.

And on the recruiting trail, Durkin knows exactly what he and his staff are looking for. At his national signing day news conference, Durkin laid out the four things he looked for in his class, which featured some local standouts, along with a distinct influx of Florida talent.


1. "Guys that play with great effort, that do things in their life with great effort. They put effort, enthusiasm into what they do."

Durkin said this was the "first and foremost" thing he was looking for in a recruit and that this concept is "the staples" of the Maryland program. It's a reflection of Durkin, who started his news conference by apologizing for his hoarse voice which he said came from yelling during the Terps' 5:30 a.m. workout. He's trying to give Maryland the image of a "blue-collar" program and preaching "effort" is one of the easiest ways to start shaping that perception. It's something he has done since the second day he was on the job.

"I think you can out-effort people," Durkin said in his introductory news conference. "I think you can out-effort people on the field and off the field."

2. "The second thing is toughness. This is a tough man's game. We want guys that play physical, play tough, both mentally and physically tough."

This one is a little obvious. Football, as it has been well documented, is a brutal and unforgiving game with high stakes both mentally and physically. But again, it fits into the perception of the program Durkin is trying to create of a blue-collar program in College Park.

"They mix it up and aren't scared to go put their face on someone," Durkin said Wednesday.

3. "We're looking for guys that are competitive."

Again, a little obvious and cliché, but there might be something to it. Maryland faces a constant uphill battle in the Big Ten Conference East division, especially with the gains Michigan has made under Jim Harbaugh and the pull that Ohio State holds with Urban Meyer. It's hard to go up against those coaches for the same top talent, as was evident a few weeks ago.

So Durkin needs players who will put in that extra effort and, in his words, "hate to lose," because there's a chance that Maryland will lose more than a few games over the next few years. But if Durkin can instill this mindset — and it seems he's already started to with his reach into Florida — it could yield some results for the Terps.

"That's one of those things that I think can withstand whatever environment you're in," Durkin said. "You bring competitive people in the environment, they'll find a way to get to the top somehow, some way, even if they may be deficient in some area."

4. "The last thing, No. 4 on that list, was guys that do things right."

Durkin's final point seems to echo his predecessor, Randy Edsall, a little bit. But in Edsall's four-plus years as coach, he worked hard to improve the team's academics and lessen off-field issues, and he seemed to have some success in those regards. It gives Durkin a little bit of a base to build on in these areas and shape it the way he wants to.

"You need to find guys that understand, do things right, not only football, but academically, off the field," Durkin said. "Just guys that understand, respect authority and understand there are rules to what they're doing and do things right. That's what we're building our team around."

So those are the expectations that Durkin has put on the Class of 2016. It might not be revolutionary or a groundbreaking thing in the football world, but as Durkin aims to put his own stamp on Maryland with his players, his system and his philosophy, it's a start.


"For us, it was really about finding the best players and the guys that fit those four things the best where you could check off each one of those boxes and say, 'This guy fits what we're doing,'" Durkin said.