Peppers: Durkin's coaching tactics 'felt extreme at times'

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Maryland coach DJ Durkin

Former Michigan standout Jabrill Peppers said he wasn’t a fan of the way DJ Durkin coached when he was defensive coordinator of the Wolverines in 2015, but he understood his approach.

Durkin left Michigan after his first season on Jim Harbaugh’s staff to become head coach at Maryland, where he has gone 10-15 his first two seasons. Durkin is on administrative leave while the school investigates accusations about the mistreatment of players after ESPN published a story last Friday detailing a culture of fear and intimidation. This surfaced after the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair, who collapsed during a workout in May and died two weeks later.

Peppers appeared on the "Rich Eisen Show" on Tuesday.

“Coach Durkin was a different guy,” Peppers told Eisen. “His tactics were different. It felt extreme at times. I’m just as shocked reading all the stuff that’s going on now, because I thought he was only like that because it was his first time coaching us. He was defensive coordinator, so he was just trying to get us to buy into how he wanted his defense to play.

“And I thought once he became a head coach he would calm down a little bit, become more of a people person, a players’ coach. But I wasn’t really following him once he left because a couple of guys, including myself, didn’t like how everything went down when he left.”

More: Maryland admits fault in death; DJ Durkin's status TBD

Durkin had reportedly met with Maryland officials just before Michigan began preparations to face Ohio State in the regular-season finale in 2015. At the time Durkin insisted his focus was on getting the defense ready for the Buckeyes.

Eisen asked Peppers the extremes he experienced from Durkin’s coaching style.

“It’s just the way he goes about getting the most out of his players,” Peppers said. “Me being from where I’m from, I didn’t like it, but at the end of the day I knew what the overall goal was. The way I would describe it, kind of like bully coaching. I don’t think he meant anything by it, but it’s kind of how it comes out.”

Harbaugh said Monday night he hadn’t spoken to Durkin.

“He has not reached out,” Harbaugh said.

Harbaugh was then asked about Durkin’s coaching style.

“I can’t speak for any other head coach or any other program,” Harbaugh said.