FootballScoop is proud to announce that D.J. Durkin (Florida) is the 2012 FootballScoop Special Teams Coordinator of the Year presented by ProGrass.
One of the most pleasant surprises in college football this year was Will Muschamp's Florida team. The Gators jumped from 7-6 in 2011 to 11-1 this year, but managed to do so while still struggling at times on offense. To make a five-win jump in the regular season, a team has to tilt the field significantly in its favor in the other two phases, and D.J. Durkin's special teams unit consistently put Florida in a position to win.
"Coach Durkin is the best in the country at what he does and our special teams unit played a critical role in our success this year," said Muschamp. "We can point to a play or plays in every game where they affected the outcome. From long field goals to blocking a kick, flipping the field, stopping returns or breaking a big return for us - they made all the plays this year."
Florida ranked seventh nationally in net punting, moving the ball an average of 40.7 yards with every kick. In 64 punts, the Gators allowed just three returns of longer than 20 yards and none longer than 30 yards. Florida's outstanding coverage also extended to the kickoff unit. The Gators ranked fifth nationally with just two opponent kickoff returns of more than 30 yards, and they were one of 17 teams to not allow a kickoff return of 40 yards on the season. They ranked 15th nationally with an average of 18.5 yards per return allowed.
On the flip side of the coin, Florida tied for sixth in the country with four punt returns or more than 30 yards. Led by Andre Debose, Florida's punt returners placed 12th nationally with an average of 13.8 yards per return and one touchdown.
The SEC bestowed a rare honor on Florida on Tuesday, naming both sophomore punter Kyle Christy and senior kicker Caleb Sturgis to All-SEC First Team. Christy leads the SEC and ranks sixth nationally with a 46.1-yard average on 62 punts.
Christy's counterpart Sturgis ranks third in the country with 23 field goals made (on 27 attempts). Sturgis' 85.2 percent conversion rate places 14th nationally, and second for kickers with 25 or more attempts. Sturgis also connected on 32-of-33 extra point attempts.
Florida also led the SEC with four blocks on the year, including a blocked punt that Jenoris Jenkins returned 36 yards for a touchdown to beat Louisiana - Lafayette.
The FootballScoop Coaches of the Year awards presented by ProGrass are the only set of awards that recognize the most outstanding position coaches in college football. The finalists (Durkin, Sean Snyer - Kansas State and Jeff Ulbrich - UCLA) were selected based off of nominations by coaches, athletic directors, and athletic department personnel. The prior winners selected this year's winner.
Durkin will receive his award and be recognized at an event at the AFCA Convention in January.
Previous winners of the Special Teams Coordinator of the Year award are James Shibest (Ole Miss, 2008), Mike Tolleson (Texas, 2009), Joe Robinson (LSU, 2010) and John Baxter (USC, 2011).
1st in SEC - Blocked Kicks
7th Nationally - Net Punting
1st Team All-SEC Kicker and Punter
12th Nationally - Punt Returns
3rd Nationally - Made Field Goals
6th Nationally - Punt Rets. of 30+ Yds.
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