According to former Michigan standout Jabrill Peppers, playing under D.J. Durkin — who was the defensive coordinator at Michigan during the 2015 season — was “extreme at times,” and he wasn’t a fan.
Durkin served as Michigan’s defensive coordinator under Jim Harbaugh for one season before he left to take the head job at Maryland in 2015. He is currently on administrative leave amid an investigation into allegations that describe his program as “toxic” and how he and his staff handled the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair.
The allegations against his program claim that it’s based on “fear and intimidation.” While Peppers — who played defensive back and linebacker at Michigan from 2014-2016 — didn’t go that far while speaking with the NFL Network’s Rich Eisen on Tuesday, he did describe Durkin’s coaching style as “bully coaching.”
“It’s just the way he goes about getting the most out of his players. 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,” Peppers said. “The way I would describe it, kind of like bully coaching, you know what I mean? I don’t think he meant anything by it, but it was just kind of how it comes off.”
Maryland fired assistant athletics director for sports performance Rick Court on Tuesday while it investigates McNair’s death, who died from heatstroke two weeks after a conditioning workout reportedly lead by Court. The university said in a press conference on Tuesday that it “accepts legal and moral responsibility” for mistakes made by its training staff.
Durkin, athletic director Damon Evans said Tuesday, is still on leave.
Peppers, who is entering his second year in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns, only played for Durkin for one season. He said he hasn’t followed Durkin much since he left, because he “didn’t like how everything went down” when he did, but said he’s shocked by the allegations, too.
He figured that when Durkin became a head coach he would have calmed down.
“Coach Durkin, he was a different guy, you know what I mean? His tactics were different. It felt extreme at times,” Peppers said. “I’m just as shocked reading all the stuff that’s going on now. I thought he was only like that because it was his first time coaching us. He was the defensive coordinator, so he was just trying to get us to buy-in to how he wants his defense to play. I thought once he became a head coach that he would calm down a little bit, become more of a people person, a player’s coach.”
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