Duncan Radakovich and his father, J.D., drove from their cozy perch in Cody down to the startling lights of War Memorial Stadium in Laramie a few weeks after this past football season had ended. Duncan had an informal visit scheduled with Wyoming assistant coach Shannon Moore. J.D. struggled to comprehend what they were doing there. On Wednesday, months after the father and son drove down to Jonah Field together, Duncan happily made his college decision while things still moved at full speed for J.D.
The Cody senior tweeted to his friendly followers late Tuesday night that he committed to walk-on to the University of Wyoming football program, moving him one step closer to becoming a second-generation college football player. His father’s pride in that has come with brief initial irony.
“(He) played at Colorado State,” Duncan told the Star-Tribune. “He’s still wrapping his mind around this.”
J.D.’s confusion doesn’t come without understanding. By the time the two returned to Cody from the game they were invited down to watch in Laramie to, the older Radakovich saw the values in brown and gold.
“We came back and he said he’d choose Wyoming too,” Duncan explained. “He said they’re a program on the rise, just getting better and better. Especially when you think of where CSU is now.”
Part of J.D.’s possible confusion in the situation came because Wyoming hadn’t been courting his son all that long. They hadn’t even been aware of him until Cody head coach Matt McFadden sent tape of the 6-foot-5, 225-pound senior two weeks after Cody’s season ended with a semifinal upset loss to rival Powell.
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McFadden saw the physicality that Radakovich has developed on a defensive line that limited teams to a Class 3A-best 97 rushing yards per game. The senior managed 62 tackles, 4 pass breakups and 3 fumble recoveries as an end on that line. And those are just the numbers before he reaches his potential.
“He has worked very hard at technical aspects of (defensive line),” McFadden explained. “Whether in film, on the field, or in the weight room Duncan will put in the time and effort it takes to play football at a high level. He has a very high ceiling and I am excited to see his growth as a player.”
The Cody senior said he noticed his physicality developed the most throughout his four years playing for McFadden, followed closely by the technical side of the defensive line. He’ll miss playing alongside the same teammates he had had since seventh grade and helped lift a trophy with.
Wyoming’s latest in-state walk-on wasn’t even recruited until after his junior year, a year after Cody won its most recent state championship. Admittedly, even then Radakovich didn’t think he would go NCAA Division I. The recruiting process intensified midway through his senior season and it’s been almost a blur from there. He’ll still answer the phone with a “Hey, coach.”
“It’s been chaotic and calm at the same time,” he leveled. “You want that call to come but it takes forever. It’s a waiting game almost.”
Radakovich has a few months between now and when he plays defensive line on a college football team, just like his father did in Fort Collins. Relieved to have the decision over, he’s enjoying his time on Cody’s basketball team this winter before he does both lacrosse and track in the spring.
Maybe J.D. will be wearing brown and gold by then.
Follow sports reporter Brady Oltmans on Twitter @BradyOltmans