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Candidates to Replace D.J. Durkin as Michigan's Defensive Coordinator

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Former Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer among the candidates that could be a fit in Ann Arbor.

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Rumors have been flying around for about or week or so, but it was confirmed on Wednesday that Michigan defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin would be accepting the head coaching job at the University of Maryland.

Jim Harbaugh now has an interesting decision to make regarding who runs his defense and no shortage of worthy candidates to choose from.

Here is our list of guys that could be in the running:

Scott Shafer

Shafer seems like he could be the favorite here, given his past working under Jim Harbaugh and also at the University of Michigan back in 2008 under Rich Rodriguez. He was Stanford's defensive coordinator in 2007 (the year they upset USC) and has has success everywhere he has been outside of, coincidentally, his stint in Ann Arbor.

Shafer spent the last seven years at Syracuse, the final three of which were as head coach until he was fired this season. When they worked together, Harbaugh called him "one of the most creative and innovative defensive minds in college football."

Some have raised questions of the last time he worked at Michigan, having to run the 3-3-5 scheme.

He was quoted as saying this to the Detroit Free Press in 2008:

We're an attack defense; scheme is overrated. All schemes can work if you tackle and keep the ball in front. We're an aggressive defense, force the offense's hand. We're going to stop the run on early downs and force the pass. We'll get situations where when we are forcing the pass, we hit the quarterback, forcing him to throw the ball into coverage.

Michigan may have not had the talent or right scheme in place under Rich Rod, but they do now, making Shafer's philosophy a good fit for what they'd like to do defensively.

Lance Anderson

Speaking of guys who have coached under Harbaugh, Anderson would also be a solid choice for the Wolverines. His name was thrown around last year when the new staff was being assembled and he has worked his way up through the ranks at Stanford.

Vic Fangio

Fangio, currently working as the defensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears, would be a tough pull, but a home run hire if Harbaugh was able to bring him in. The two worked together with the San Francisco 49ers and built one of the elite defenses in the NFL and did it quickly

It's unlikely that he would leave the Bears being under contract, but if Harbaugh feels he is the guy they will pull out all the stops and open up the check book to make sure they get it done.

Jeremy Pruitt

Pruitt is the biggest pipe dream candidate on this list, but would be a great choice to slide in as defensive coordinator, as well.

Pruitt has deep roots in SEC country being an Alabama native and making coaching stops in Tusculoosa and at Florida State and Georgia. With Mark Richt's firing and Kirby Smart looking like he will be Georgia's new coach, Pruitt could be headed to Alabama. Michigan hiring him could help to further establish its recruiting pipeline to the South.

Greg Mattison and/or Greg Jackson

Sometimes what you are looking for can be right under your nose the entire time.

Mattison was Michigan's defensive coordinator under Brady Hoke and stuck around when Harbaugh hired him to coach the defensive line. He is absolutely capable of the job should the Wolverines decide to elevate him to the position again.

Defensive backs coach Greg Jackson is also a possibility after how the back end played this season. He would also have a case for a promotion.

Another less-likely scenario is that Mattinson and Jackson are named co-defensive coordinators, like Mike Tressel and Harlon Barnett were after Pat Narduzzi left Michigan State for the Pittsburgh job. This would probably way down on the list after other names on the list do not work out.