Ole Miss defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin finalizing deal to move to Texas A&M

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Texas A&M appears to have found its replacement for Mike Elko.

According to Yahoo Sports' Pete Thamel, Durkin is finalizing a deal to be the Aggies' new defensive coordinator. Durkin has been the defensive coordinator at Ole Miss since Lane Kiffin was hired before the 2020 season. Elko was recently hired as the new head coach at Duke to replace the retired David Cutcliffe.

The Ole Miss defense allowed 24.7 points per game and 5.5. yards per play in 2021. That was a huge improvement from 2020 when the defense was gashed for 38.3 points per game and 6.7 yards per play. Ole Miss hadn’t given up fewer points per game over an entire season since 2015 when the Rebels beat Oklahoma State in the Sugar Bowl. Ole Miss lost the Sugar Bowl on Saturday to Baylor after quarterback Matt Corral was injured in the first half.

Durkin spent the 2018 and 2019 seasons out of college football after he was fired by Maryland. Durkin was the team’s head coach when Jordan McNair died 14 days after he suffered heat stroke during a team workout in May 2018.

Durkin was placed on paid leave that August as the response and circumstances surrounding McNair’s death were investigated and a report of the “toxic culture” surrounding the football program emerged.

An investigation didn’t hold Durkin personally responsible for McNair’s death but outlined the numerous failings in the medical response to McNair’s heat stroke episode in the minutes after the workout.

Durkin was reinstated as Maryland’s coach on Oct. 30, 2018, by the school’s board of regents but was fired by the president a day later. Durkin had an 11-15 record in his career at Maryland and the team was 4-8 in 2017.

Before coming to Maryland he was the defensive coordinator at both Florida and Michigan. He was at Florida in 2013 and 2014 and served as the team’s interim coach in the bowl game after Will Muschamp was fired. Durkin then spent the 2015 season as the Wolverines’ defensive coordinator before getting the Maryland job.