Notebook: Durkin dishes on new leadership & cornerbacks

D.J. Durkin is entering his second year as defensive coordinator for the Florida Gators after spending two years as the special teams coordinator. Durkin did a good job in his new position last season — even if the majority of the credit for the defense goes to Will Muschamp.

Durkin works closely with the linebackers in practice but he has his thumb on the pulse on the entire defense. Durkin took time Thursday to meet with the media to discuss how the defense is replacing lost starters from a year ago and what he expects from some newcomers.


New Leader Emerge on Defense

  • Dante Fowler has stepped into a new role for the Gators — a leadership role. Now a junior, Fowler is not just leading by example but taking a more vocal role as well.

He has his moments to speak up or say something off the field or on the sideline, and he has done that. He’s bringing some young guys along as well. I’m most proud of how he has been consistent throughout the spring.”

  • Fowler has been a terror for Florida’s offensive line this season and will be one of the most important players on the defense in 2014.
  • Mike Taylor has stepped into a leadership role as well. Taylor has taken some of the younger players under his wing this spring and is helping the linebacker group even though he isn’t getting the lion’s share of first team reps.

Mike knows the defense really well. He’s been great for D Mac [Daniel McMillian] and some of the younger guys, because Mike is that type of guy. He’s that type of player. He takes time to bring another guy along. He has spent time with Daniel off the field too just helping bring him along. Again, talking about a leader and a valuable guy, you can’t say enough about Mike Taylor for us.”


New blood at cornerback

  • Asked how freshman cornerback Jalen Tabor compares to All-American cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, Durkin was quick to bat down those kind of lofty expectations being thrown at Tabor.

He [Hargreaves] and Jalen are different type players. Jalen is a longer type corner. Travaris Robinson, our DB coach, does a great job with our guys in terms of identifying the techniques that are good for them. Every guy is a little different in what he does well and the techniques they play with are different. So those are two different players. Both very effective.”

  • Tabor has had moments where he struggled and moments where he shined. He doesn’t look like a typical freshman but Durkin is right to deflect the comparisons to Hargreaves.
  • Durkin said neither Tabor nor fellow freshman Duke Dawson look like freshman out there and both are competing for the starting spot opposite Hargreaves.
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Nick de la Torre
A South Florida native, Nick developed a passion for all things sports at a very young age. His love for baseball was solidified when he saw Al Leiter’s no-hitter for the Marlins live in May of 1996. He was able to play baseball in college but quickly realized there isn’t much of a market for short, slow outfielders that hit around the Mendoza line. Wanting to continue with sports in some capacity he studied journalism at the University of Central Florida. Nick got his first start in the business as an intern for a website covering all things related to the NFL draft before spending two seasons covering the Florida football team at Bleacher Report. That job led him to GatorCountry. When he isn’t covering Gator sports, Nick enjoys hitting way too many shots on the golf course, attempting to keep up with his favorite t.v. shows and watching the Heat, Dolphins and Marlins. Follow him on twitter @NickdelatorreGC


  1. I’m glad to see Durkin saying that leaders are being developed. The biggest reason for UF’s inability to make plays on defense last year was the dearth of leadership on defense after Easley went down. If leaders are developed, UF should be much stronger on defense this year and not falter at critical moments like they unfailingly did last year.

    • Well 2 of the 4 CB’S we got have shined so far, the other two may just do the same. J.C. Jackson is a beast himself, and I think quincy wilson is a long (6’2) fast (4.5) underrated corner who shut down ermon lane each time they played . We will have a undoubtedly solid no – fly zone if those 2 develop as well as tabor and dawson are doing.