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Potential candidates for Maryland football's offensive coordinator job

Looking into some possibilities for DJ Durkin's most important hire.

Michigan co-offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch.
Michigan co-offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch.
Bryan Fuller / MGoBlog

The Maryland football program still needs to name an offensive coordinator for next season under DJ Durkin, whether that winds up being incumbent Mike Locksley or somebody from the outside. Durkin has said he'll be "deliberate" in filling out his staff, and that should hold doubly true for his offensive coordinator. Durkin is a defensive mind by trade, and he'll need a coordinator on offense whose Xs-and-Os savvy comes with sharp recruiting ability.

Let's look, now, at a couple of coaches who could be fits.

Zach Azzanni, Tennessee wide receivers coach/passing game coordinator

We've heard a lot of the whispers about Azzanni and Maryland, first reported here by USA Today's Dan Wolken. He has a major Durkin connection, having worked with him as a graduate assistant under Urban Meyer at Bowling Green just after the turn of the century. He's bounced from job to job since then, mostly as a receivers coach. He spent 2011 as the offensive coordinator at Western Kentucky, when his Hilltoppers finished No. 99 in the country in total offense, tossed 13 interceptions and placed No. 97 in offensive S&P+.

Azzanni has some recruiting chops. Bud Elliott, the national recruiting director for SB Nation, calls him "tireless" on the trail. He knows the Big Ten a bit from a stop at Wisconsin. He's only 39 years old and has put plenty of four-star prospects in the bank for his employers. He makes sense for a job like this one, especially in lieu of Durkin's apparent desire to recruit hard in the southern states.

Eddie Gran, Cincinnati offensive coordinator

Gran is a big-time southern recruiter. That's how he's made his name, and it's a big part of why power-conference teams will probably be interested in him sooner than later. Gran has never coached with Durkin, but he spent a lot of time recruiting the Miami area while Durkin was at Florida from 2010 to 2014, so the two have crossed paths. He's been the Bearcats' running backs coach and coordinator since 2013, installing Tommy Tuberville's version of the Air Raid and having decent success – a top-end offense by total yardage last season that still looked pretty decent (No. 33 nationally) when evaluated based on advanced indicators like S&P+.

Before Cincinnati, Gran was the associate head coach, special teams coordinator and running backs coach at Florida State under Jimbo Fisher from 2010 to 2012.

Tim Beck, Ohio State co-offensive coordinator

Beck's been the subject of some speculation since it first became clear Durkin would be hired. He currently shares Ohio State's offensive coordinator job with Ed Warriner, and it's possible that Beck might want control of his own unit – something he doesn't presently have in Columbus. His boss is Meyer, which puts him in the same coaching tree as Durkin.

Beck is a bit of a shiny object here, given that he's a coordinator and quarterbacks coach for Ohio State. But he doesn't have the same reputation as departed Buckeyes coordinator Tom Herman, and he doesn't have the same way-back Ohio State history as Warriner, his co-coordinator. (Beck just arrived from Nebraska before this season.) Warriner is also a potential fit, but the guess here is that he's not as likely as Beck.

Jedd Fisch, Michigan co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks and receivers coach

Fisch has had a winding, impressively perseverant coaching career. He's still young at 39, but he coached on the offensive side of the ball for seven NFL teams between 2001 and 2014. He got to Michigan at the same time as Durkin, before last year, to help run the opposite side of the ball for Jim Harbaugh.

He did an apparently great developmental job with Iowa transfer quarterback Jade Rudock, who looked like a ghost with the Hawkeyes but turned in a quality senior season for the Wolverines. Michigan's offense was No. 34 in offensive S&P+, which isn't as good as the No. 2 ranking of Durkin's defense but is quite a bit better than the offense's No. 82 rating the year before Fisch got there.

Mike Locksley, incumbent offensive coordinator and former Maryland interim head coach

It's not smart to discount the idea that Locksley could keep his old job. Maryland already pays Locksley a great deal of money. Even though Locksley's most valuable trait is recruiting and certainly not his offenses' historical record, it could become the case that the only way Maryland keeps Locksley's superb local recruiting presence is to also keep letting him call plays on offense.

The best outcome for Maryland is probably to keep Locksley around but not as the primary – or at least not sole – play-caller. Anything less would present an odd predicament for Durkin but one that would force him to think long and hard.