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Michigan defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin utilizes clean slate policy, equal opportunity for playing time

In his first media appearance with Michigan, defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin said the slate has been wiped clean and every player has an equal opportunity to see playing time.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

ANN ARBOR -- New Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh has insisted that his team has a clean slate and that opportunities for playing time will not be earned by past performances going forward.

That sentiment was echoed Thursday evening when defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin spoke with the media after the second day of spring practices concluded.

"What I want to do is make sure all these guys, and I told them this when I met with them, that they have a clean slate to start from," Durkin said. "In terms of one-by-one individuals, I want these guys to know, maybe your guy hasn't played much, you have a new opportunity to do that. Maybe your guy has played a lot but it's not just going to be given to you, you gotta go earn it.

"That way, I think, the whole room understands that they will have an equal opportunity to go earn some snaps."

The Michigan defense returns the majority of its starters a year ago. Naturally, with vast in-game experience, some players may seem to stick out more than others. So far, two days into practices, no one has stuck out to Durkin who remained steadfast in bringing the focus on his team.

"I've been encouraged by a lot of guys," Durkin said. "I like our approach to practice and what we're doing. I think guys are bringing good energy and enthusiasm about it. When we get the pads on and get going I'm sure of those guys will emerge."

A bonus for Durkin is that one person still remains on staff from the previous coaching regime. Defensive line coach Greg Mattison, who was the defensive coordinator under former coach Brady Hoke, knows the defense better than arguably the entire new staff combined.

"We talk a bunch," Durkin said. "Greg is a great coach, a great person and a great friend. Obviously he's been here awhile and he knows these guys really well and that's something I trust. I've trusted him for a long time and we've been close friends for awhile. It was good to hear his thoughts on other guys. We wanted to start out with some sort of depth chart to go from and he was helpful in that.

"Really, more than anything, getting to know the kids as people."

With both the team and coaching staff still trying to figure each other out, it will take some time before a somewhat formal depth chart is formed. The best bet to see where the team is at will be the spring game on April 4.