By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa - Keith Duncan was rewarded on Tuesday for his productivity and consistency, but none of it would’ve been possible without his patience, persistence and loyalty.
The junior from Weddington, N.C. could’ve easily transferred from Iowa after losing the starting kicking job to Miguel Recinos in 2017.
But Duncan didn’t take the easy way out.
Instead, he sat behind Recinos for two seasons and worked quietly behind the scenes to get better.
It certainly wasn’t easy, especially since Duncan had been Iowa’s starting kicker as a freshman in 2016. He even made a last-second field goal to beat Michigan in 2016, earning him a place forever in Hawkeye legend and lore.
Despite being demoted, Duncan stayed the course and now that course is taking him on fantastic journey.
In addition to being named the Bakken-Anderson Kicker of the Year in the Big Ten Conference on Tuesday, Duncan is also one of three finalists for the prestigious Lou Groza Award, which goes to the nation’s top collegiate kicker.
Nate Kaeding is the only Iowa kicker to win the award in 2002.
Duncan capped the regular season in spectacular fashion by making a 48-yard field goal with one second remaining to defeat Nebraska.
He then turned to Nebraska head coach Scott Frost, who had tried to ice him by calling two timeouts, and blew him a kiss.
It was a moment of triumph and human emotion that Iowa fans will cherish forever.
Duncan set a Big Ten record with 29 field goals made this season, which averages out to more than two field goals per game.
His 29 field goals rank sixth-best all-time in the NCAA. Duncan also set a school record with six field goal attempts in Iowa’s win over Purdue. His 34 attempts on the season are also a school record.
And though his high number of field goals was due partly to Iowa’s inability to score touchdowns in the red zone, three points still is better than no points.
Duncan has been a model of consistency, and that’s what you want most from your kicker.