Jordan Duncan’s mother has nine children. The three-star wide receiver – who committed to California on Sunday, and went public on Monday – is the youngest of those nine.
“Man, my mother, she fell in love. She built a bond with coach [Sonny] Dykes. They immediately clicked,” says Duncan, who completed his official visit this weekend with a commitment. “My mom’s all about family, and she understands, because she’s a mother of nine, so she got that love feeling. She loves associating with others, and she built the bond.
None of Duncan’s four brothers or four sisters have gone to a four-year university straight out of high school. Duncan – with his 3.86 GPA and Cal scholarship, will be the first. He brought his mother with him on his official visit this weekend, and they both fell in love.
“My mom’s made so many sacrifices for us, growing up. She told me, she said, ‘Jordan, this is it.’ I was feeling that way, but I wanted to be sure, so I said, ‘Mama, it is?’ To see my mother happy, to go up there and see it’s a different deal -- because she’s lived in Mississippi all her life -- even though it’s a thousand miles away, she understands the opportunity,” says Duncan. “She wanted me to get away. She said, ‘Jordan, it’s the mindset.’ This is California – people want to see you make it, it’s crazy, but the energy around you is so positive, and it can lead you to greater things, so that’s something we both felt. It’s the best school in the world. Everybody dreams about making their mom proud, and I feel like those dreams are coming true.”
Being the baby of the group has allowed Duncan to see the successes and the failures of his older siblings, to see where they stumbled and fell.
“I’m the first one to ever commit to a four-year university, and they all started off at junior college; I’m the first for everything, and it’s truly an honor and a blessing,” says Duncan. “To be able to be that, to be the youngest one – it took the youngest one to do what all the others should have done – I did learn from my mom, and from my older siblings, the decisions they made. I looked up to them. I’d look at decisions they made and be like, ‘I can’t make that decision. I can’t do this in life.’ I’m blessed to be the last one, and I’m going to make everybody back home proud of me. They’ve really provided for me, and I want to make my family proud.”
Two classes ago, the Bears got cornerback Darius White out of Itawamba Community College in Mississippi. This past cycle, the Bears landed offensive guard Ryan Gibson out of the ‘Sipp. Earlier this month, Cal added another offensive lineman from the Hospitality State in Gentle Williams.
On Sunday, Duncan joined the Mississippi Mafia in Berkeley, adding his services to the 2016 recruiting class after an official visit. Duncan didn’t want to let the cat out of the bag, publicly, before he talked to another Cal target from his home state: Quarterback Jack Abraham, who just so happens to be Duncan’s QB on his seven-on-seven team.
“Yessir,” Duncan laughs. “I was trying to wait until tomorrow (Tuesday), because I had committed Sunday, but only a few people knew. I was trying to wait, but I told him, ‘Dude, I’ve got something to tell you.’ Jack Abraham is a fine young man, he really is. His character speaks louder than football. His dad really raised him to be the young man he is, today, and I told him, ‘Man, we can do some great things, here.’ He ended up telling me, ‘Man, I’m thinking hard on it.’”
What Duncan had to say to Abraham was instructive, as he got to meet up with not only the current Mississippi natives on the roster, but other Southerners, as well, including DePriest Turner and Brandon Singleton.
“There are guys that are from Mississippi, and they showed me around there, and it’s great that there are guys from Mississippi down there, but I just feel like I’ll fit in just fine,” Duncan says. “Mississippi-to-California, I feel like that’s going be a different deal, because you’ve got some different folks up here, but it’s great, and I made the move because, it wasn’t about how many miles it was, but because of the opportunity there, that I could have, and for future generations. That was awesome.”
Those opportunities for future generations come through education, and that was one of the biggest selling points for Duncan.
“You’ve got Brandon Singleton from New Orleans, and you’ve got Trey Turner from Mobile, Ala. – they’re other South guys, and I got to ask them how things are going, and with the guys that coach [Jacob] Peeler was recruiting, and they all said that the means what he says: You come up here, and you can actually compete, and not just in football,” Duncan says. “The education was why they wound up coming out here, and from that standpoint, it made my decision to come here even easier, because I’m like, ‘I’m not the only person who’s coming out here.’ I wouldn’t be the only guy feeling and experiencing these things, who isn’t from around this area. To have that and to see that, I felt like I made a great decision.”
The relationship with Peeler was paramount, not only in the fact that he’s a voice from Mississippi, but because of how he uses that voice.
“The relationship we built, it was like a brother-to-brother,” says Duncan. “All coaches speak highly of their schools, but not that many are actually about what they’re saying, and he was one of those few. He did a really good job recruiting me. He did it like I’d do it – he means what he says, and he says what he means. He wants to see me make it.”
And Peeler may very well have a hand in helping Duncan to make it. At 6-foot-2, 190 pounds, Duncan is a versatile receiver who’s being recruited to play a variety of positions. The Bears will need someone to fill the role of a Bryce Treggs, or potentially of a Kenny Lawler, Maurice Harris or Trevor Davis -- all of whom will likely be in the professional ranks at this time next year.
As such, Duncan can fit in at the X, the Z or the H spot, with the H spot falling under Peeler’s purview.
“They recognize that I can do both, and they know I’m a versatile player,” said Duncan, who tallied 1,234 all-purpose yards for Hattiesburg (Miss.) Oak Grove last season. “They know I can work at slot, as well, but I can also work outside. They told me that I’m a versatile player, and that I could do it all, and that’s what they want to do – move me around the field. They want to try me at both positions, and if I do well, then I can do both.”
Having the possibility of throwing to as versatile a target as Duncan as incentive may very well nudge Abraham a bit closer to the West Coast, particularly after the conversation he had with Duncan. He may not be the only one swayed, as the Bears are still in on wide receiver A.J. Brown and defensive end KaDerrion Mason out of McComb (Miss.).
“He knows if I loved it, if I’m doing, then why not?” Duncan says. “I’m sure they’re seeing it now: ‘Duncan goes out from Mississippi to Cal, so I know I can.’ I’m really want to be able to get those guys to commit, because we can do something special at the University of California, something really special. It’s all going to fall in place. Just imagine all of us up there.
“I told [Abraham], who was proud of me, that we all have different experiences, and whatever coach Peeler tells you, you believe. He’s a man of his word, and what goes down here, you’ve just got to go see it. I told him: ‘Man, you’ve got to go experience it.’”