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Maryland football has many ties to Michigan, but game is no homecoming for DJ Durkin

DJ Durkin’s first speech as head coach of the Maryland football team came shortly after he was hired last December, when he summoned his new players to the Gossett Team House auditorium to tell them, in his usual fiery tone, what to expect.

They hadn’t seen him in action yet, so Durkin not only promised them he would deliver but also told them to ask any player he had previously coached — including at his previous stop, Michigan, where he served as defensive coordinator — what he was all about.

A number of Maryland’s players checked Durkin’s references. Senior defensive end Roman Braglio spoke with former Michigan linebacker Joe Bolden, who graduated last year after playing his final season under Durkin.

“He said he was crazy. And full of energy,” Braglio said. “But he said he’s a great coach. All of that holds true.”

Redshirt sophomore linebacker Melvin Keihn picked the brain of Michigan fullback Henry Poggi, a former high school teammate at Gilman in Baltimore.

“He’s like . . . when you do what you need to do, he will run around and kind of jump on you,” Keihn said. “And that’s exactly what he does. Coach Durkin has that juice to him.”

As Durkin returns to Ann Arbor to face former boss Jim Harbaugh and the third-ranked Wolverines on Saturday, he won’t be bitten by nostalgia. This is not a homecoming. Durkin has lived in Maryland, settling into his new home in Kensington with his wife and two children, for nearly twice as long as he lived in Michigan, an important reminder this week. He has trumpeted his long-term vision for the Terrapins often throughout his first 11 months on the job, so he was more than believable when he played down any sentimentality over going back.

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