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January 27, 2013
Former players reflect on new defensive coordinator
Not many Florida players were able to keep any sense of stability after Urban Meyer left coaching following the 2010 season.
Jelani Jenkins and Jonathan Bostic were exceptions.
D.J. Durkin, Gators linebackers coach and special teams coordinator, was one of three assistants retained by new coach Will Muschamp. The decision kept Jenkins and Bostic from having their third different position coach in three years at UF.
"It made it a lot easier because his fundamentals and the way he taught were always the same," Jenkins said. "It just carried over year by year and we got better every year in that sense. We knew what to expect."
Both Jenkins and Bostic credit Durkin for molding them into the linebackers they have become as they prepare for the National Football League Combine and April's draft. It wasn't that long ago that Durkin was the new guy, brought in for the 2010 season after defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Charlie Strong left to become Louisville's head coach.
Strong was instrumental in recruiting all of Florida's current linebackers at the time, knowing many of them since they were sophomores in high school. Durkin had spent the three previous seasons at Stanford, a school that doesn't usually cross paths with Florida on the recruiting trail.
Durkin was completely unfamiliar to Bostic. Jenkins had two friends who played for the Cardinal. They told him Durkin was their favorite coach and Jenkins would enjoy playing for him.
"We bonded real fast," Jenkins said. "He made me a lot better of a player when he got there. He drilled over and over again fundamentals, which I didn't really have. I was basing my game off athletic ability."
Bostic had a relationship with Strong that was noticeable after the Sugar Bowl earlier this month. He stuck around afterward on the field to congratulate Strong on Louisville's victory after an embarrassing defeat in his final college game.
Durkin was "a big change" for all of the linebackers, Bostic said, but one that it didn't take long to get used to.
"He really taught Jelani and I the game of football and how to break down the linebacker position," Bostic said. "Coming into this year, there was a big difference. He's one of those guys you wish you would have had for all four years."
At 35, Durkin is establishing himself as a rising star in coaching. Bostic wasn't surprised when he heard Durkin named as the new defensive coordinator at Florida just hours after Dan Quinn left for the Seattle Seahawks.
"I knew a lot of it was coming," Bostic said. "He was next in line for a job anywhere, anybody that wanted a defensive coordinator. He's a guy that was one of the best coaches on our coaching staff."
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