Keith Duncan has fun with the media interviews, but the Iowa kicker has learned plenty of humility throughout his career.
Go back to the 2017 season, when he was a sophomore coming off a season in which he was the Hawkeyes’ primary kicker, delivering a game-winning field goal to defeat Michigan on a Saturday night at Kinnick Stadium.
That 2017 season was when he lost the starting job to Miguel Recinos, and didn’t get it back until last season.
So Duncan understands how the business works. Kickers can be here today, behind someone else on the depth chart a week later.
“Learning some humility was great,” Duncan said Tuesday. “Just going through that process of ‘What can I do to get better?’ There’s always more I can improve on, and each day is a new challenge. But that’s a challenge I accept as a person. You just have to have that mindset going forward.”
Duncan was a consensus All-American last season after steamrolling through Iowa’s record book. But this season, after making his first four field-goal attempts, Duncan has missed his last two — a 37-yarder at home against Michigan State and a 50-yarder at Minnesota on a cold, breezy Friday night.
“Kind of disappointing the last two (games),” Duncan said.
But Duncan knows — and really, any kicker knows — that these things can happen.
Duncan calls himself a “big golf guy,” so he referred back to Sunday’s final round of the Masters, when Tiger Woods shot a 10 on the par-3 12th hole at the Augusta National Golf Club, then had birdies on five of the last six holes.
“I saw Tiger Woods hit a 10 on a par-3 that he’s probably played hundreds of times,” Duncan said. “He’s probably hit that club that he used a thousand times. And then he ended up finishing, I think, 5-under in his last six holes.
“So that basically comes down to how you respond, how you carry yourself mentally and physically. And that’s what I’m looking to do.”
Duncan was 29-of-34 in field goals last season, setting Iowa and Big Ten single-season field-goal records. Yet even with five first-team All-American honors and the Big Ten kicker of the year award, Duncan didn’t win the Lou Groza Award, given to the nation’s top kicker.
Again, humility got him through that snub — Duncan repeated on Tuesday that it was an honor just to be a finalist.
He is 42-of-51 in field goals for his career, an .824 percentage that is best in Hawkeye history, a lot more makes than misses.
Duncan went back to that 2016 season, when he learned from everyone, he said. One of those teachers, he said, was linebacker Josey Jewell, a consensus All-American in 2017, who taught Duncan about leadership.
Now, Duncan’s All-American portrait is next to Jewell’s in Iowa’s football building.
“The portrait looks great,” Duncan said, smiling. “They did a great job on it. It’s fun to see me next to Josey, because I think I’m flexing my neck a little bit. I look a little bit bigger than him.”
Humility doesn’t have to be there all of the time.