Keith Duncan almost didn’t go to Iowa.
If he hadn’t, the freshman kicker from Weddington, N.C. couldn’t have drilled a 33-yard field goal for the Hawkeyes as time expired on Saturday, sealing a 14-13 upset of No. 3 Michigan.
And if not for Jason Baker, an Iowa alumnus and former Carolina Panthers punter, Duncan likely wouldn’t have ended up at Iowa at all.
Baker, who played for the Panthers from 2005-2012, sometimes gives his alma mater advice on special teams matters. When Baker was combing the country for kickers Iowa should investigate, he wasn’t satisfied.
“I wasn’t real excited about a lot of guys I was looking at,” Baker said Sunday.
So he turned to another former Panther – 15-year kicker John Kasay – for help.
Baker asked Kasay, now the athletic director at Charlotte Christian, if he knew of anyone worth looking at.
Kasay instantly thought of Duncan, whose Weddington team played against Charlotte Christian. Baker did some scouting and relayed the message to Iowa, where Duncan eventually walked on.
“He’s gutsy enough to make a decision to go to a school far away,” Baker said. “I have a lot of respect for someone who would roll the dice on themselves like that.”
Duncan won the kicking job at Iowa over the summer, and Saturday he helped deliver Michigan its first loss of the season.
Baker was at the game watching, and he said he saw Duncan after the game.
“They were throwing him up and down in the locker room,” Baker said. “I think we’re just seeing the start of it for him.”