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Early candidates to join D.J. Durkin's Maryland football staff

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Maryland's new head coach now has to fill out his staff.

Travaris Robinson, current Auburn defensive backs coach.
Travaris Robinson, current Auburn defensive backs coach.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

D.J. Durkin is Maryland's new head football coach. He comes to Maryland via Michigan, where he served this season as the Wolverines' defensive coordinator. He was Florida's interim head coach and defensive coordinator before that, and he's also had stops on his way at Bowling Green, Notre Dame and Stanford.

Now that Maryland's head coach search is over, it's time to move onto the next-best thing: an assistant coach search. Durkin isn't an offensive mind by trade, so he'll need a dynamic coordinator on that side of the ball. On defense, he'll need a staff of assistants who can help him execute an aggressive vision for Maryland's unit.

It's early, but here's a list of candidates:

Offensive staff

Ed Warriner and Tim Beck, Ohio State co-offensive coordinators. Warriner and Beck have led Ohio State's offense together this year, coaching under Urban Meyer in the post-Tom Herman era in Columbus. Durkin worked under Meyer at Bowling Green in the early 2000s, and it's quite possible that one of Meyer's co-coordinators might want his own set of responsibilities. If so, Maryland could do worse than either.

Tim Drevno and Jedd Fisch, Michigan co-offensive coordinators. Sort of a similar rationale, here. Drevno was on Jim Harbaugh's Stanford staff (with Durkin) in 2007 and 2008, as a tight ends coach. Fisch joined Harbaugh, Durkin and Drevno as the passing game coordinator in Ann Arbor this season, and he did a nice job with transfer quarterback Jade Rudock, who looked like a corpse at Iowa but saw a fun revival with the Wolverines. One coach might want his own job.

Zach Azzanni, Tennessee wide receivers coach/passing game coordinator. He was a Bowling Green graduate assistant with Durkin in the early 2000s, and he's bounced around ever since. He's been at Tennessee for three seasons, spending two as a recruiting coordinator and all three coaching wide receivers. He also coached receivers at Wisconsin for a season, so he knows a little bit about the Big Ten. Maryland could see a coach with both southern and midwestern connections and jump at him, but he'd probably need to be the offensive coordinator.

Pep Hamilton, former Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator. This could be a pretty big score for Maryland, and it'd be significant for what it means. Hamilton, whom the Colts fired this year amid a dreadful start, has a pretty solid record running pro-style offenses, and he comes from the same Jim Harbaugh coaching tree that Durkin inhabits. The two have plenty of mutual coaching connections, as both were at Stanford - separated by just a year - and have worked with Harbaugh and plenty of his assistants. Hamilton is also local and could probably recruit the area well.

Mike Locksley, former Maryland interim head coach and offensive coordinator. We'll have to see how interested Durkin is in keeping Locksley around. He has an objectively bad record running offenses, but nobody recruits the Maryland and Washington area better than Locksley, and Durkin might want to keep him around for that reason alone. Current Terps running backs coach Terry Richardson and receivers coach Keenan McCardell, who's going to be a hot candidate, are also worth watching.

Trent Miles, Georgia State head coach. When Durkin was a graduate assistant under Tyrone Willingham at Notre Dame in 2003, Miles was the Irish's receivers coach. He's since gone onto a nice career for himself, spending four years as the head coach at Indiana State before taking the same post at Georgia State in 2013. Miles might not want to give up a head coaching job to become an assistant, but being a Big Ten offensive coordinator might be a step forward from head coaching in the Sun Belt. But this is a longshot.

Defensive staff

Travaris Robinson, Auburn defensive backs coach. Robinson played safety at Auburn and then in the NFL, and now he's back at his alma mater. He was Durkin's defensive backs coach at Florida – a talent-rich state if there ever was one – and is just 34 years old. He's a potentially hot candidate to watch. He's also a great recruiter – maybe best known to Maryland fans as the Florida recruiter who grabbed five-star cornerback Jalen Tabor away from the Terps a few years back. He'd probably need a promotion to leave Auburn for Maryland.

Greg Mattison, Michigan defensive line coach. This would make a bunch of sense in the event Harbaugh doesn't promote Mattison to take Durkin's defensive coordinator job. Mattison coached above Durkin at Notre Dame, then under (or perhaps alongside) him last year at Michigan. He's been a coordinator and defensive line coach at Michigan, Florida and Notre Dame, and he could be a fit even though he's 66 years old.

Michael Zordich, Michigan secondary coach. Durkin brought on Zordich from Youngstown State to coach Michigan's defensive backs this season. It went very well, with a Jabrill Peppers and Jourdan Lewis-led Wolverines secondary helping put the Wolverines in the top five nationally in passing defense. He's a definite candidate here if, like Mattison, he isn't made Harbaugh's next coordinator.

Keith Dudzinski, Maryland defensive coordinator. Dudzinski took over for Brian Stewart as what turned out to be Randy Edsall's final defensive coordinator at Maryland. Dudzinski oversaw the installation of Maryland's 4-3 defensive scheme, and it actually sort of worked. The Terps fell from No. 42 to No. 50 in S&P+, but their run defense improved from 72nd to 35th. It's not impossible that Durkin tries to keep Dudzinski around in some capacity. Also keep an eye on current Maryland defensive line coach Chad Wilt and the rest of Maryland's defensive staff.

Mike London, former Virginia head coach. London just "resigned" from Virginia after six mostly lousy years as the Cavaliers' head coach. But he's got impressive regional connections from stints not just in Charlottesville, but also at Richmond and William & Mary, and he's regarded as a good defensive thinker.

Kent Baer, UNLV defensive coordinator. Baer was the Notre Dame defensive coordinator under Willingham when Durkin was a graduate assistant in South Bend, and he was the interim coach there between Willingham and Charlie Weis. His star has faded a bit since then, and that's why Baer has bounced from San Jose State to Colorado to UNLV in his last three stops. But he could conceivably find his way onto his onetime pupil's staff.

Brad Lawing, Florida State defensive ends/outside linebackers coach. Lawing was Muschamp's assistant head coach in Florida for the last few years, where he was also a defensive line coach. After Muschamp's canning, Florida picked Durkin – the defensive coordinator – as the interim head coach. Lawing moved on to Tallahassee this season, but he retains recent work alongside Durkin.

Could fit in a few different spots

Clayton White, North Carolina State safeties coach/co-special teams coordinator. White coached both defensive backs and special teams at Stanford with Durkin, under Harbaugh. He's been at Connecticut since 2011 - right about the time a certain ex-Huskies coach took a job with Maryland - and played three years in the NFL. He could theoretically fill any number of roles at Maryland, which is, you know, a real dream job for someone who's been at UConn before.

Jeff Choate, Washington defensive line coaach/special teams coordinator. Choate is reportedly interviewing at Montana State for a head coaching job, but he's got Durkin connections to make some sense at Maryland as a coordinator – defense or special teams – if he wants to move back east. He was Durkin's linebackers coach at Florida in 2013, when Durkin was the Gators' defensive coordinator and Will Muschamp was head coach.