Big Ten Conference Football Media Days

Monday July 24, 2017

DJ Durkin


THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Maryland head coach DJ Durkin.

DJ DURKIN: Thank you everyone for being here this afternoon. Very excited to be here mostly because this marks the start of another football season. Good to be back. Good to be back starting football. It's been a great summer for us in many ways.

We have our new facility, Cole Field House. That project, the first phase of that was just completed. In fact, we'll be in there this week with our players working out in the indoor facility for the first time. I don't know if you've seen pictures on the website but, it's tremendous -- state-of-the-art, one-of-a-kind type of facility.

You don't get something like that done, a project like that done, without great support. And our administration, our president, Dr. Loh; our athletic administration, Kevin Anderson, Damon Evans -- we have so many people that just do a tremendous job supporting our program and helping. Can't say enough about that.

So that's been huge for us, a lot of excitement around the program for that. We did sign a really large, I think, very talented freshman class in recruiting. Those guys are all here this summer. They're working out, doing great.

I love the new rules of football, that we're able to actually be with our team now more in the summer being and be at workouts, so you can see how their progress is going, and those guys are doing tremendous.

A lot has been said, and rightfully so, that there's such great talent and recruits in our area, right in our backyard. I think someone probably not talked enough about is the level of high school coaching in our area. They're such great coaches. These guys have all come in, they're working out, they're with our team. And the level they're starting at, it's not such a big jump that it is maybe coming from some places and some programs.

So that's been very noticeable to myself and our staff. Those guys are doing great, getting ready to go. We're excited to see them get out there.

We know we have a tremendous challenge and with that some great opportunity this year. It all starts with game one with Texas. And a lot has been said about our schedule and all that. And it is, it's a tremendous challenge. I think our guys are excited about it. It's helped our focus a little bit throughout the summer. I know it will carry through preseason camp.

One of my favorite times of the year is going through preseason camp because guys are competing for jobs. That's what it's all about. We set up our practices to be very competitive. And there's a lot of jobs to be had and a lot of both young and old guys both going after it. I think they're all making each other better. So we're certainly looking forward to that. We get to start it up next week.

Q. Can you talk about the focus in terms of getting ready for Texas to open the season as opposed to the first game a year ago when you were playing Howard at home?
DJ DURKIN: Yeah, just I think obviously our players have a great understanding of the tradition, the level of talent on the roster at Texas. And so I think really as a competitor, when you know you're up against a worthy opponent, an opponent you have tremendous respect for, your focus tightens up a little bit, you sharpen your focus.

So that's not something we've spent a lot of time talking about. We're really focused on our team right now, worrying about us getting better and improving every day and what we're doing. But obviously that's something, without being said, I know was in the back of everyone's mind. I think it does, it forces you to be a little bit more on your game and know that you've got to be ready week one. There's no like easing into the season. It's ready to go.

Q. With this scheduling talk, how big of an issue has that been? Have you brought it up with the guys and do you think it's created an edge for your guys' summer? And do you think it will maybe create some type of edge or chip on your shoulder kind of going into fall camp?
DJ DURKIN: It's not something we've talked about, no, but there's been plenty of talk about it. So obviously, I'm sure our players will hear about it. I think that's the type of mentality our program has. That's what we're building. And I believe in many ways we have in terms of -- we do have something to prove, a chip on our shoulder. That's how we prepare every day and that's how I want our program to be.

If that happens to help that and encourage that, then that's great. It's not something that we really focus on and talk to our guys about.

Q. You play in arguably the toughest division in college football. How close are you, do you think, to being at a level where you can challenge the top teams?
DJ DURKIN: We do -- our conference as a whole and obviously in our division, you can definitely make an argument it's the most competitive there is out there.

And we're getting closer and closer every day. I think we're recruiting at a level that will put us in the position we want to be in, which is we're here to win championships. We're here to compete, to win it. That's why we're here, that's what we're going to do.

So I think we took a great first step with that recruiting class we just put together. And we have some guys on our team, on our campus, on our roster that we're working really hard, developing and working with, they're doing a great job.

So it's a process. Football is an ultimate team sport. And to go through our schedule, you play a nine-game schedule, you've got to have depth on your roster. You're going to face injuries. You're going to face some guys missing time and being out. And you've got to build your roster all the way down.

We're definitely not there yet in terms of where we want to be, from one through 85 or one through 105. But we're certainly a lot closer, and I like where we're at. I think we have a team we can go compete with anyone we play.

Q. As you mentioned, recruiting, you've done very well. You finished with one of the top recruiting classes in the Big Ten in your first year. What do you think has enabled you to recruit so well?
DJ DURKIN: You know, it's a mix of several things. I think any time you're recruiting, which in many ways it's sales, you have to have a good product to sell. We have a great product. We have, as I mentioned, the Cole Field House, the new facility going in, a tremendous university, a degree that carries a lot of weight, not only in our area but throughout the country.

We're in such a great market for internships and things guys can do to help their education more than just in the classroom. And right in our backyard, within a three-hour radius of our campus is some of the best talent, best players in the country, so when you have those guys there, we can get them on campus frequently and get them there.

I think the last part of it is that we have a staff and a team of players that all work hard recruiting together. I say that because our players are a big part of it. When guys come and they're hosting them, and that's a really big part of that visit, that a recruit feels comfortable with the team and gets along with the guys. And our guys, we talked about that and teach them and really work at it, because that's a big part of it.

So all those things together I think really allows us, puts us in a really good spot to recruit at a very high level, which is what I think is great about and unique about this job. That's where I feel we can really, as we keep going forward here, put ourselves on the map with anyone.

Q. When you got hired at Maryland, a lot of us asked you questions about some of your former bosses who we're going to see here, with Jim Harbaugh and Urban Meyer. From the first year that you've spent, in the first four-year quest, playing against them and recruiting against them, have you learned any lessons from having to face them that were different from the lessons you learned when you worked under them?
DJ DURKIN: I just think if you go to our conference from top to bottom, there's a lot of great coaches. I think one of the things that we all know and I certainly realize is you better be prepared every week, better have your team prepared no matter who the opponent is or what's going on, because there's great coaches from top to bottom in our conference and there are some of the best players in the country in this conference.

I think it's a reality we live in. I think it's great because it's the environment that I know I want to be in as a coach, I know our staff and our players all want to be -- as a competitor you want to be competing against the best.

I believe on a day-to-day basis, we're doing that in this conference, and those are the types of people we want to involve in our program, the guys that want to be part of that environment.

Q. Kind of piggybacking off the recruiting question, how much of an advantage or how much do you think about a young, successful coach, you know, obviously Maryland on the (indiscernible), how much does that help you in terms of recruiting against the other, maybe more established coaches in the Big Ten?
DJ DURKIN: I just think, as I mentioned some of the advantages we have earlier, I really feel like in our backyard there's a strong group of talent every year, year in and year out, that if you do well in your backyard you can survive on and win a lot of games, win championships with. I don't know if that's the case everywhere.

So that's where, I think, to me, it's more about, yeah, we work at it every day and we're aggressive about it, and I think we have the ability to get guys on campus a bunch just because of geographically where we're located. So we make no mistake about it, in our program we work on recruiting every single day. There's not a day where we're not doing something to help recruiting in some aspect.

I mean that's what it's all about. If you want to win at a high level, you've got to have great players. That's who wins the games, the players do. So that certainly helps us.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
Rev #1 by #188 at 2017-07-24 18:39:00 GMT

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