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Examining DJ Durkin’s top recruits of all-time

Auburn has landed its next defensive coordinator in DJ Durkin.

Durkin brings a wealth of knowledge to the Plains, as he has served as a Power Five coach since 2007, with one exception. He joined the Atlanta Falcons staff as a consultant during the 2019 season before re-joining the college ranks as a defensive coordinator under Lane Kiffin at Ole Miss and most recently under Jimbo Fisher at Texas A&M.

He has led defenses to produce solid numbers throughout the years, but another impressive aspect of his resume is his ability to recruit.

Throughout his time at places such as Florida, Maryland, and Texas A&M, Durkin has played a hand in several of the nation’s best athletes signing with his program. Durkin is now paired with great recruiters such as Charles Kelly, Marcus Davis, and even his new head coach Hugh Freeze, which should allow him to continue recruiting at a high level.

Here’s a look at the top 10 recruits that Durkin has had a hand in landing over the years.

OT DJ Humphries

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Durkin’s top recruit would ultimately become a first-round pick in the NFL draft. DJ Humphries was the No. 5 overall recruit from the 2012 recruiting cycle and the No. 1 offensive tackle from the class. He appeared in 29 games in three seasons as a Florida Gator, making 16 starts. As a freshman in 2012, Humphries was named a Freshman All-American by Sporting News and was a Freshman All-SEC offensive lineman.

His pro career is turning out to be just as successful, as he has started 98 games over the last eight seasons for the Arizona Cardinals.

DE Jonathan Bullard

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Jonathan Bullard was a force on Florida’s defense from 2012-15. He ended his career at Florida with 169 total tackles which included 30.5 for a loss. His senior season in 2014, Bullard earned first-team All-American status from CBS Sports and Pro Football Focus, and was a finalist for the Bednarik Award.

Bullard had his best season as a pro in 2023 with the Minnesota Vikings, where he made 44 total stops with a forced fumble and two sacks. As a recruit, Bullard was a four-star defensive end by 247Sports and was the No. 30 overall recruit from the 2012 class.

QB Will Grier

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Did you know that Durkin had a hand in Florida landing one of the best quarterbacks from the 2014 recruiting cycle? Will Grier originally signed with Florida in 2014 as the No. 4 pro-style quarterback and the No. 1 recruit from North Carolina.

Grier received many accolades before his time at Florida. He was named Player of the Year by Parade, Maxwell, and Tom Lemming. Grier was also named an All-American by 247Sports and MaxPreps.

Grier played one full season at Florida, passing for 1,202 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2015. He finished his college career at West Virginia, where he would go on to pass for 7,354 yards and 71 touchdowns in two seasons in Morgantown.

The Carolina Panthers selected Grier with the 100th overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft. Since then, has spent time with the Panthers, Cowboys, Bengals, Patriots, and most recently the Chargers.

LB Alex Anzalone

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions‘ leading tackler this season was once recruited by Durkin to play for Florida.

Alex Anzalone was a five-star linebacker out of Wyomissing, Pennsylvania in the 2013 recruiting cycle, and was the No. 32 overall recruit. Anzalone played four seasons at Florida before declaring for the NFL draft in 2016. He finished his college career with 75 total tackles and three sacks.

His redshirt junior season in 2016 is when his career truly took off. He recorded 53 tackles, four going to a loss. He used that momentum to launch a successful NFL career. In seven pro seasons, Anzalone has made 455 stops with 23 tackles for loss. He has also become one of the top linebackers in the NFL over the last two seasons, as he has recorded 254 tackles in Detroit.

LB Daniel McMillian

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Daniel McMillian was one of the top prospects from Florida during the 2013 cycle. He was the No. 11 overall recruit from Florida and the No. 5 linebacker for the class. He went on to play 37 games at Florida from 2013-16 and made 65 total stops.

S Marcell Harris

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Durkin teamed up with former Auburn defensive back and current Georgia co-defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson to land Marcell Harris in the 2013 cycle. The former No. 10 safety played three seasons at Florida where he totaled 102 tackles.

He has worked to build a solid NFL career since being taken in the 6th round by the San Francisco 49ers in the 2018 NFL draft. He has 167 tackles in five NFL seasons, and most recently recorded 12 tackles last season with the New York Jets.

OG Terrance Davis

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Durkin’s top recruit as Maryland’s head coach was a four-star guard named Terrance Davis. Davis was the No. 3 overall recruit from the state of Maryland during the 2016 cycle and was the No. 5 overall guard.

Davis played four seasons at Maryland before transferring to Wake Forest ahead of the 2020 season.

ATH Dalton Brooks

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Durkin’s most recent proof of successful recruiting is Texas A&M safety Dalton Brooks. Brooks was the No. 6 in the 2023 recruiting class and was considered to be a four-star recruit by 247Sports.

During his first season in College Station, Brooks appeared in eight games and made 18 tackles with one interception.

RB Anthony McFarland

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Durkin and Maryland beat out schools such as Miami and Georgia to snag the No. 3 all-purpose back from the 2017 class, Anthony McFarland.

McFarland rushed for 1,648 yards and 12 touchdowns in two seasons at Maryland and would go on to become a fourth-round pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2020. As a pro, McFarland has rushed for 146 yards on 42 carries in 17 NFL game.

LB Michael Taylor

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

We kick off this list by featuring one of the first recruits Durkin landed as a Power Five assistant. Michael Taylor was the No. 5 outside linebacker from the 2010 cycle and was the No. 8 prospect out of Georgia from Westlake High School.

Taylor had a stellar career at Florida, making 194 tackles in four seasons with 14.5 going for a loss. In 2013, he recovered three fumbles to go along with his 62 tackles.

Story originally appeared on Auburn Wire