Signing Day: Green Wave tackle Cedric Dunbar inks papers to Jackson State
Published 12:56 am Thursday, February 8, 2018
Cathedral School’s Cedric Dunbar has been told he has big shoes to fill.
Continuing a family legacy, Dunbar signed his National Letter of Intent Wednesday to play football at Jackson State University — the school at which his father also played.
Despite pressure from outside sources, Dunbar said one person has constantly supported him no matter what.
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“It feels a little weird when you go around there and they all still know my dad, but he is one of those people who doesn’t care about the legacy stuff,” Dunbar said. “He is excited as he is always been because he cares about the person as an individual. It was never that he was happy that I am following in his footsteps. He told me that if I wanted to go somewhere else, he wouldn’t have cared. It was my decision and what was best for me.”
Dunbar’s father, also named Cedric, played multiple positions for the Tigers and flourished as a punter in the 1990s. He won two Southwestern Athletic Conference Championships.
Dunbar’s mother also graduated from JSU, playing basketball and serving as an athletic trainer.
“It helped a lot that my parents went there,” Dunbar said. “It was a big part of the decision. When you’ve been raised in the sport — to love the sport, it makes it a lot more fun in the end.”
After growing and getting significantly stronger during his junior year, Dunbar said he began to seriously think about playing college football just a couple years ago.
And while he got the genes of an athlete from his parents, he also got the wit.
“My dad believes everyone has the chance to make their own legacy,” Dunbar said. “I feel the same way, and I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve been with him so long but that’s what it’s all about.
“It’s all about work. Nothing in life is going to be handed to you on a silver platter.”
As Dunbar realized he had the talent, standing at 6-foot-5, he made the conscious decision to use it.
“Toward the end of (junior) year I started thinking about if I could do it, I might as well try,” he said. “There was no need to have all the talent and then not do anything with it. I went to a few camps this summer and got a bunch of looks from colleges.”
Despite the various interests, Dunbar didn’t visit Jackson State until early November, a few weeks after Cathedral finished its season.
Of course, Dunbar’s journey didn’t come without bumps in the road. His hardest moment was during the summer training, he said.
“When I was at a bunch of camps, I was going up against a bunch of dudes who had multiple DI offers,” he said. “To think I went my entire senior year and ended the season without a single offer, I got nervous and started to wonder why I was doing this.
“But, you can’t just stop working out up until signing day. It dawns on you that you may never get the opportunity, but you just have to never quit. Until the final bell rings, you just never know.”
Luckily for him, Dunbar’s visit with the Tigers worked out after a standout senior season. He finished with the Green Wave as an offensive and defensive lineman with 35 tackles, three sacks, eight tackles for loss and was named to the MAIS District 5-AAA All-District First Team and as an MAIS All-Star Selection.
“When I went up there for a visit they just said they liked me and wanted to offer me,” he said.
Still, Dunbar kept his options open including offers from Mississippi Valley State and multiple junior colleges.
“I didn’t want to close anything off, because you never know what could happen. We kept everything open,” he said. “For the most part, though, I kept thinking that since I went to visit (Jackson State), that that was going to be what it was.
“I liked it — the atmosphere, everything. When you go to a game, you see all those people sitting there watching you and I loved it. I fell in love at first sight.”
Dunbar made his commitment official at the end of January. To sign his papers Wednesday was a relief, he said.
“It was crazy to think now that I’ve got somewhere, I didn’t have to worry about if anything was going to fall through,” he said.
With a new home, Dunbar said his main goal is to receive a starting position.
“They said they want me to play a bunch of different positions. They have me at long snapper, center and tackle,” he said. “I really want to come in and put the work in during the summer to put myself in the position to get a starting position when the season starts. Knowing I put in the hard work, I know I can be whatever they need me to be.”
Whatever the future holds, Dunbar knows one thing is certain — his parents will be right beside him.
“Dad told me that they would be there wherever I went — no matter if I played football or not. They would be right there with me, all the time,” he said. “I felt really good about that to know they were behind me 100 percent. I’m just excited to get in and play.”