DJ Durkin doesn't have any down time now that he is Maryland's new head football coach.
He won't take the field with the Terps until next August, but he has two big tasks to accomplish before the team can begin thinking about X's and O's. He has to hire a staff and hit the recruiting trail. Durkin takes the helm at Maryland in the middle of a recruiting contact period. He'll have to jump headfirst into helping the team avoid a complete rebuild by keeping as many recruits as possible, while also trying to grab any new prospects who view Maryland in a better light now that Durkin is running things.
The 2012 Rivals Recruiter of the Year isn't revealing any state secrets when he talks about his strategy for getting players to commit to sign with his team.
"Recruiting is all about relationships," Durkin said at his introductory press conference Thursday. "Relationships are built through time and through adversity. You go through cumstances together, and so I just plan on starting from day one and being consistent and and continue to build those relationships. I don't think there's some magic thing that you say or that you call and all of a sudden win everyone over."
Durkin will look to continue the #dmvtoumd movement that started under Randy Edsall and Mike Locksley. Before the coaching change, Maryland received commitments from four of the top 20 recruits in Maryland, according to 247 Sports. Durkin needs to increase that number in future years for his recruiting at Maryland to be considered a success.
"With our recruiting base, in our backyard, I know we can recruit the right talent to be here," he said. "Eventually over time you work into it and then there's a sense of pride from this area and the people in it to say 'you know what, we want to play for the hometown team.'"
He was quick to share the credit when talking about his Recruiter of the Year award.
"Obviously any time you're named to one of those awards, it's rewarding, it's exciting, but there's so many people that go into recruiting and actually signing a guy," Durkin said. " We had an entire recruiting staff, not to mention the rest of the coaches on that staff that did a phenomenal job, obviously the head coach is a huge part of it. There's so many people who go into it."
Basically, that means Durkin isn't going to be able to get the best prospects in the area to Maryland by himself. The biggest recruiting question right now surrounds the status of Mike Locksley. Maryland's interim coach for the final six games of the season has helped assemble the 36th-ranked recruiting class in the nation, according to 247 Sports, which is also reporting that Locksley is unlikely to return to Maryland.
"I want the staff to keep working right now and to keep doing what they're doing," Durkin said. "They've obviously done a heck of a job putting together a great recruiting class, and built relationships, and I don't want that to just cut off and stop.
"Mike, as well as everyone else, will be evaluated, and we'll go through that process," he said.
Finding new coaches and deciding which ones currently on the payroll will stay and which will go has to be a priority for Durkin. However, he's not going to rush the process.
"I'll be very deliberate about it. As the right guys come forward, we'll keep working with it as we move forward," he said. "We're in the middle of a recruiting period right now, and we have a group of guys on the staff who are currently working on recruiting."
Most coaches want "their guys" to come on the staff when they assume a new head coaching job, and Durkin seems no different.
"Guys that I've been through it with before so I know how they'll respond, as many of those guys as we can get on the staff, the better," he said.
Durkin didn't mince words when talking about his feelings on the Big Ten, and views the team's competition against the Ohio States and Michigans of the world as a good thing.
"It's the top of the country," Durkin said. "You have an opportunity to recruit the best in the country, I believe, because best of the best want to play in the best. That's who we are, that's who we play week-in and week-out, and that's who we want to be involved with recruiting."