Local star waits his turn to shine

Ben Morrow
Staff Writer

Every high school football player
dreams of playing under the big lights on Saturdays.
Not every player gets to do it in his hometown. Christian Duncan, a redshirt freshman from Murray High School, will get to do just that.
The new Racer leatherhead draws a couple of interesting thoughts at first glance. He’s listed at 5-foot 9-inches and 175 pounds as a safety.
After a good look at him in his pads, though, you can’t help but think that an open-field hit on an unsuspecting receiver would have to leave a mark.
Sadly, watching the local newbie smack around larger athletes will have to wait for a year, at least on Saturdays.     If anyone has the discipline to wait, Christian seems to be the guy.
Duncan chooses to approach his new role as temporary benchwarmer with humility.
“You go from being a starter on both sides of the ball as a high school senior to having to wait, but it’s still fun because practice helps me get better and help out the team,” the underclassman said. “It gives me a chance to get faster and stronger before I get on the field, so it’s fine.”
He might be the first person to ever start both ways as a high school senior and still feel fine while watching games from the bench as a collegiate freshman.
Actually, No. 20 is special, and he is no stereotypical jock either. Duncan can hit the books as well as the tackling dummies.
Duncan excelled academically at Murray High, becoming valedictorian of his class in 2010. Now the boy virtuoso, arrives at Murray State on full academic scholarship as a pre-med major and as a presidential scholar.
This guy clearly has aspirations beyond a 7-11 clerk.
Even if Duncan isn’t the largest guy on the practice field, the coaches no doubt expect the new athleticus genius maximus to catch onto the play schemes quickly enough.
Duncan said he has already noticed the difference of high school and college ball even before the first game.
“It’s definitely a faster game,” said the Pythagoras of pass coverage. “Everybody at every position is faster, and the skill level is much different.             The speed and athletic ability of these guys is awesome.”
The freshman’s eyes lit up when his first road trip was mentioned to him.
“It’s going to be wild,” he said, speaking of the upcoming challenge against University of Louisville on Thursday.         “We’re going to be playing at Papa John’s Stadium, on the turf, under the lights, in front of 70,000 people. It’s going to be special.”
Wild. A challenge. Special. Even with the potential spanking awaiting this group of Racers in their first game of the year, there is no shaking this guy’s optimism.
Duncan transitioned to Murray State  playing nearly every down for his father, Steve Duncan, at Murray High. Now Head Coach Chris Hatcher is the boss.
Despite the obvious desire to play in his hometown, Duncan had only positive things to say about his new head coach.
“Coach Hatcher is a very excited guy,” Duncan said. “He brings a lot of energy to the program, and he has a winning attitude which isn’t found everywhere.”
Christian continued to bubble over about Hatcher’s leadership.
“He definitely expects our best,” he said. “He’s not satisfied with winning sixor seven games. He wants to win every single game. He wants every single practice to be our best.
“With that kind of guy pushing us, we’re going to be the best that we can be this year.”
Clearly, the 6-5 record racked up by the Racers in 2010 won’t cut it for the redshirt optimist or his new head coach.
The safety said he loves the thought of making Stewart Stadium his home field and eventually crunching opponents, not just numbers, in front of familiar faces.
“It’s cool,” he said. “I have little kids that I would see at school come up and give me five. I would see people in town that I know who would encourage me. It’s really special having all these fans.”
Smart. Strong. Studied. Disciplined. Tough. All packaged into a 5-foot 9-inch defensive back.
If the players on the field show the heart and character of “the little safety that could” sitting on the sidelines waiting his turn, then this group of Racers should certainly be an exciting team to watch this year.
Don’t worry, Christian. Your turn is coming. With your attitude, you can’t help but succeed. Just be sure to balance your study of Vertebrate Histology with your new blitz packages.
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