DJ Durkin likes what his old boss, Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, is doing. But he doesn't think he'll get an opportunity to do the same thing next spring. The Maryland head football coach thinks the NCAA will soon outlaw Harbaugh's pioneering out-of-state spring practice tour, which doubles as a de-facto recruiting exercise.
"I would imagine that after this year, they'll probably make it so no one's allowed to do it," Durkin said after a Maryland spring practice on Tuesday. "It was a great idea, and good for them."
Durkin largely echoed comments he made to CBS Sports' Jon Solomon back in the winter:
"They'll be recruiting, I know that. If I had been here six months ago, we may be doing the same thing. All these guys get caught up in it and get all mad. My guess is this is the last time anybody is ever able to do that. He did a nice job getting in on the front end before it gets outlawed."
Terps, new coaching staff still getting acquainted
Durkin told us a few weeks ago that he doesn't yet have a handle on his roster. That's still the case, but Maryland's spring practices are serving as a get-to-know-you between Maryland's positional coaches and players.
The players spent the winter in the weight room with new strength coach Rick Court, and the team's coaches made an effort to check in wherever it was permissible. But they didn't get to actually use a football on a grass field with their players until this month, and everyone's still getting a handle on everyone else. That makes this spring session particularly important for Durkin.
"It's very important every year, but especially this year, our first year all together, it's critical," Durkin said. "We tell our guys all the time, your tape is your resume. So they're showing us what they can and can't do, so every rep they take is important to them, it's important to us as coaches because we're building our team and making a lot of decisions based on what we're going to be, what we're going to do based on how these practices go."
Durkin has talked ad nauseam since getting the Maryland job in December about his desire to establish a workmanlike, blue-collar attitude throughout the program. That's still a work in progress, too.
"It's definitely grown. We're not where we want to be, but it's growing. They're starting to understand that. I want that to be really, when it's a competitive period of practice, it's the whole new feel, the whole new look in everyone's eye, coaches and players alike because you've got to train to do that. That's what the game is all about . That's every down."
Durkin's watching Maryland's Sweet 16 run intently
He has a busy schedule, but Durkin said he stayed up late on Sunday to watch Maryland's men's basketball team advance to the Sweet 16. He's been a regular fixture at Xfinity Center since taking over the football team. (As well he should be, since his entire staff's contracts include a season ticket package.)
"Absolutely," he said, asked if he's been keeping tabs. "I love watching them."
Most notably, Durkin refers to the Terps basketball team as "us."
Observations from practice
A few thoughts from two and a half hours watching Maryland, albeit in an informal setting:
Both tight end Andrew Isaacs and defensive tackle Adam McLean sat all of last season with ACL tears. Both were full participants on Tuesday, and they looked healthy. McLean briefly went down with an apparent injury around his right knee, but he returned to practice shortly thereafter and didn't appear limited.
The Terps are using four or five different players at center, as they seek to replace the departing Evan Mulrooney. Maurice Shelton, who's generally played tackle, airmailed a shotgun snap over Perry Hills' head at one point. That's probably to be expected when you're trying players all over the field, which Maryland wants to do. Caleb Rowe said Brendan Moore, Mulrooney's backup last year, had stood out in the team's practices so far.
Josh Woods and Denzel Conyers appear, at the moment, to be Maryland's starting safeties. Both A.J. Hendy and Anthony Nixon are, of course, out of eligibility.
Here's a really nice picture of Durkin with his wife and son after practice, by Alexander Jonesi:
Here's a full spring practice schedule, as Maryland works toward its spring game on April 16. We'll have more over the next few days from Tuesday's practice.