Auburn is hiring former Texas A&M assistant coach D.J. Durkin to fill its defensive coordinator vacancy, 247Sports’ Matt Zenitz reported Monday night. Durkin served as the Aggies’ defensive coordinator and linebackers coach from 2022-23 under Jimbo Fisher but didn’t return when new Texas A&M coach Mike Elko hired Jay Bateman to run his defense.
Tigers coach Hugh Freeze has hired new coordinators on both sides of the ball as he prepares for his second season at Auburn. Durkin is set to replace former DC Ron Roberts, who left in January to join Florida’s staff as executive head coach, co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. Freeze also made the decision to move on from offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery after one year. He was replaced with former Ole Miss wide receivers coach Derrick Nix.
Durkin’s defense saw some improvement through his two years at Texas A&M. The Aggies finished seventh in the SEC in 2022 while allowing 365 yards per game but cut that number to 316.2 in 2023, which was good for 19th nationally and third in the conference in total defense.
But Durkin’s unit struggled some against an increased level of competition. The Aggies allowed at least 30 points in four out of their six losses — all against power conference teams — and gave up an average of 30.3 points per game against their last four FBS opponents.
Durkin has extensive experience as an assistant in the SEC. He served in multiple roles at Florida, including defensive coordinator and linebackers coach, from 2010-14 and returned to the conference in 2020 as the co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Ole Miss.
He was also the head coach at Maryland from 2016-17, where he compiled a 10-15 overall record with a 5-13 mark in Big Ten play. Durkin’s tenure ended in controversy amid an investigation into allegations of a toxic culture following the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair. Durkin returned to the team after 80 days on administrative leave but was fired in Oct. 2018 due to intense backlash over his reinstatement.