A leader, a workhorse, and the best defensive back he’s coached at North Surry. Coach Danny Lyons had no hesitations in singing the praises of Darius Duncan.
Duncan signed his National Letter of Intent with Catawba College on Wednesday.
“Darius has been a coach’s dream since day one,” Lyons said.
Lyons first met Duncan five years ago, when Darius played quarterback for Meadowview Middle School. Lyons said he’d never seen Duncan in Little League or in middle school before, but he knew Duncan was a star as soon as they met.
“You could just tell by the way he played and the heart he had that he was going to be a special player,” Lyons said. “From that point on, I made sure I knew who he was.”
Duncan came into high school smaller than traditional defensive backs. During his sophomore season, Duncan said he spent lots of time in the weight room getting bigger and faster, leading to his move to the varsity squad. This is when his dream of playing college football began to feel real.
David Carpenter began coaching defensive backs during Duncan’s sophomore year. Carpenter said it means a lot to him that Duncan will continue his football career, because they’ve been together throughout Duncan’s high school career.
“He’s a hard worker, a good kid, and never says anything bad,” Carpenter said. “[Duncan] does everything you need him to do.”
Duncan did a little bit of everything in the 2017-2018 season in which the Greyhounds finished 10-1 and champions of the Western Piedmont Athletic 2A Conference. Offensively, Duncan was second on the team in receiving yards (384), first in receiving touchdowns (8), and fourth in all-purpose yards (797). On defense, he led the team in deflected passes (16), tied for fourth on the team in total tackles (69), and tacked on an interception.
Duncan was also one of the biggest contributors on special teams. He led the team in kickoff returns (10), kickoff return yards (168), and punt returns.
It was Duncan’s ability to thrive in all three phases that garnered the attention of college scouts. Duncan ultimately chose Catawba College, electing to become a Catawba Indian after his time as a Greyhound. Duncan said he first visited the campus as a high school freshman as part of Catawba’s football camp.
“It was a good fit for me, honestly,” Duncan said. “I’m looking forward to meeting new people and getting to know the family on the football field.”
Lyons said it wasn’t just Duncan’s leadership on the field that made him successful, but his impact off the field as a team leader as well. When North Surry hosted Carver, a game that the Hounds were projected to win, Lyons said he made a couple of bad coaching decisions that nearly cost them the game. After the game, Duncan approached Lyons and said, “Coach, that’s why we’re a team. We’ve got your back.”
Duncan will be a hard player to replace, Lyons said, but he is confident that Duncan will find a niche and have a positive impact at Catawba.
“I love him and we’re going to miss him,” Lyons said.
As for Duncan, he knows this wasn’t a journey he could’ve completed on his own. He took time to recognize his supporters to conclude the post-signing interview.
“I just want to thanks all my coaches that believed in me and got me here, and my parents for helping me all the way through,” Duncan said.
Reach Cory on Twitter @MrCoryLeeSmith