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Maryland students weigh in on new football coach DJ Durkin, Mike Locksley

Maryland's new coach brings pedigree and passion. So far, students might be buying in.

Sung-Min Kim

When the University of Maryland named Michigan defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin its new head football coach last week, he became the 36th head coach in Terps history.

From experts, the reviews have been good. At only 37 years old, Durkin is the youngest head coach in the Big Ten. In his first year at Michigan, Durkin coached the Wolverines to the No. 4 defense in the nation in yards allowed per game. ESPN's Todd McShay called Durkin a smart hire, highlighting his passion and strong coaching background.

But what do Maryland students think of the hire? We took a sample.

Some students, like freshman Alex Barrett, think bringing in Durkin will immediately help the program. "It's an awesome hire," Barrett said. "We needed a fresh face." Barrett was also excited about the coaches Durkin has worked for in the past, like Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh. "We can gain respect right away," he said.

Sophomore Jake Griffith agreed with Barrett, pointing to the reputation of Michigan football. "He's a good coach from a reputable school," Griffith said. Griffith said Durkin's background in defense will ultimately lead to success for Maryland. "A strong defense is an integral part to any team," he said.

A strong defense is good, but what about offense?

Maryland ranked 85th in total yards, 107th in points per game and 108th in passing yards last year. Bringing in a defensive-minded coach may be disconcerting to some, but not to freshman Anne Marie Demme.

"If he is a good coach, he should know stuff about offense," she said. "And I don't think the coach determines the success of the team. It depends on the players."

Junior Mark Busbee said Maryland's offense still concerns him, but he trusts Durkin's judgment. "I think it is a good hire because he is a defensive genius," he said. "But he needs to bring in a good offensive coordinator."

Maryland's offensive coordinator this year was Mike Locksley. He has been with the program for 10 years and has been the offensive coordinator for four. Locksley took over as interim head coach after Randy Edsall was fired, but didn't have results to keep the job. He is known for being a great recruiter, but does not have a good history as an offensive coordinator.

But to students like sophomore Garrett Weakly, Locksley is essential.

"I want to keep Locksley," he said. "He is good at recruiting, and recruits are attracted to him." Sophomore Ben Aronson agreed with Weakly, pointing to the team's performance under Locksley.

"The team played better under Locksley than Edsall," he said. Simple enough, even if the record wasn't better.

Students have their own expectations for Durkin.

Griffifth, a sophomore, said winning a national championship anytime soon is far-fetched, but he expects Maryland to at least have a winning record. Sophomore Trey Davidson said just having a winning record wouldn't be enough for him.

"I think eight wins would be a success," he said. Busbee said he expects seven to eight wins, plus a game in January. "I want the young guys to develop, and to compete for a January bowl," he said.

Others, like Alex Barrett, had lower expectations. "I expect an improvement, because it's not hard to improve on this season," said Barrett. "A successful season would be finishing above .500 and going to a bowl game."

Sophomore Danny Hoffman said only results will get him excited about Maryland football, and his expectations reflect that.

"Hopefully," he said, "we just don't lose eight games in a row again."

For freshman Sim Bastakoti, no amount of wins or losses will make the season a success or failure. For her, Durkin just has to positively represent Maryland.

"The University of Maryland is no joke," Bastakoti said. "Being our coach shouldn't be a joke either."