Jaelyn Duncan has his sights set on a future continuing his football career at a D1 school.
by Abe Hubbard
Standing six and a half feet tall, junior Jaelyn Duncan awaits the opening whistle for the start of the 2016 football season. He knows that this year will be the most important in his high school career. He hopes to be offered a scholarship to a Division 1 football program.
Duncan started playing organized football when he was 12 and hasn’t looked back. “Ever since my first day of practice, I knew that this sport was something that I would like to take further,” he said. He is being recruited by seven college programs from the University of Maryland, the University of Pittsburgh, Ohio State University, Temple University, West Virginia University, Virginia Tech, and Penn State University. “I am extremely excited about the offers that I currently have,” he said. “I can only go forward from here.”
Duncan plays on both sides of the ball. He plays on both the offensive and defensive line. During his 2016 football campaign, Jaelyn recorded 71 tackles and 5 sacks.
Although he has received a variety of offers from schools both big and small across the country, he still isn’t satisfied. “I would really like to be given the opportunity to play at Clemson or Alabama. Both have really good football teams.” he said. “Alabama has created a really good program over the years and every player’s ultimate goal is usually to end up there.” The University of Alabama had a perfect season in 2016 and was first in the nation. In total, they have 16 national championships, with four coming during the last ten years.
Of the offers he has, Duncan says that he would really like to attend Maryland. “Maryland is a great school and has a really recognized football team. It is also close to home which I enjoy.” Currently, the Maryland Terrapins are part of the Big Ten conference. Their record for the 2016 season was 6-6 and they were fifth in the east division. On December 26, they lost to Boston College in the Quick Lane Bowl game.
Few people realize the amount of training and work it takes to compete at such a high level in a sport – especially football. Duncan estimates that he spends 15 hours a week in the off-season working on his skillset. “Staying focused in the off season is definitely a challenge. You do not have coaches telling you what to do so you have to keep yourself on track,” Duncan stated. “I stay motivated when I work out alone by telling myself that all the hard work will pay off once the season starts. Coming to practice ready on day one gives me an advantage.”
Coach Darren DeMeio worked with Duncan during the first part of the season and has nothing but positive things to say about him. ‘’Jaelyn has a great love of the game and work ethic. He prepares himself all year for the season,” he said. “I could see potential in him at first. He has worked so hard that he has surpassed expectations early. His accomplishments so far show no ceiling for his potential.” Everyone who either follows school sports or are friends with Duncan is curious to see where he will end up after high school. Demeio stated, “He has his options which will be a tough decision for him to decide what is best for him and his family.”
Senior Chauncey McCray plays next to Duncan on the defensive line. “Me and Jaelyn work really well together,” he said. “We know each other off the field pretty well so it really helps us get a step up on the field.” He is excited for what Duncan’s future has in store. “I think it would be pretty cool to be able to watch one of my friends play every weekend play on T.V.,” he said.
Duncan is driven every time he plays or trains. He wants to make himself proud first and then his family. “I want to make it pro and make my mother proud. She has always supported me since day one, and it’s the least I could do for her,” he said. “Since I was boy she always drove me to all my practices without complaining and has always been there for me.” He also wants to make the school proud. “It would be crazy for a boy from Southern Maryland to make it big.”
It is unique for a football athlete with such talent to come through our school. It will certainly be interesting to see what college he chooses.For now, the school community is waiting to see what decision Duncan makes. Whatever college he chooses, he will leave an imprint on our school which will be remembered for years.