In his introductory press conference as Maryland's head football coach on Thursday, DJ Durkin didn't stop smiling. Over a 27-minute first impression in front of the Maryland press corps, new athletic department colleagues and some of his new players, Durkin was irrepressibly giddy.
"This is really cool," Durkin said, as his 2- and 5- year old children and wife, Sarah, sat a few feet in front of him. "I've been waiting for this day for a long, long time preparing for it. To say the least, I'm very excited."
Ordinarily, Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson is stoic. Sitting with Durkin at a podium in the Gossett Team House's Glazer Auditorium, Anderson grinned plenty while barely saying a word.
Durkin comes to College Park with a pedigree. He's coached under both Ohio State's Urban Meyer and Michigan's Jim Harbaugh and – as Anderson was quick to point out Thursday – also Falcons coach Dan Quinn, Stanford coach David Shaw and former Notre Dame coach Tyrone Willingham. (One of these objects is not like the others.) Durkin said he's picked up on items from the coaches he's been around.
"I've been very fortunate to be around some of the best there is," Durkin said. "As coaches, you always take bits and pieces from people you've worked for, worked with. You're always learning. You're always evolving. So there's a long list of things."
But Durkin wants his Maryland teams to have a distinct flavor.
"I think the most important thing as a coach is you put your own stamp on it, and your own personality," Durkin said. "You don't try and be someone else and just do it they way they did it because. Do it the way you want to do it and what's true to yourself."
What exactly will be true to Durkin isn't quite clear yet. As a career-long defense and special teams coach, he said he has a sense of how Maryland will look under him in those phases of the game. On offense, Durkin just said he knew what he doesn't want Maryland to be. "I don't know how specific we'll be," he'd say, about Maryland's on-field strategy.
Durkin's first task is huddling with Maryland's staff of assistants. He said no decision's been made yet on the status of former interim coach Mike Locksley, who Maryland would like to keep onboard in some capacity for recruiting purposes.
Along with the rest of Maryland's Edsall staff, Durkin said Locksley would be "evaluated" after a meeting. The new coach said he'd hit the recruiting trail "soon" but hadn't yet fleshed out geography.
"From the top down if you have alignment and a culture when everyone is pushing in the same direction the sky is the limit. You can accomplish anything. In our industry in particular talking about football, again with our recruiting base in our backyard, I know we can recruit the right talent to be here. You mix an organization that is aligned right, a healthy culture. Energy equals production," Durkin said. "This entire building will be filled with high-energy people that are excited about coming to work and will go do it from the top on down."
That sounds like Durkin wants a young, recruiting-savvy staff. But that's still speculation.
So, on the whole, there's still not a lot of certainty. What can be known beyond doubt is just that Durkin is Maryland's new head coach and that he's really, really happy about it.