Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 24, 2018

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 42 of 55 SEPT. 24, 2018 43 FOOTBALL RECRUITING BY DAVID MCKINNEY C oaching staffs across the nation saw something in Kyle Hamilton long before the rest of the country began to notice his talents. When he announced his commit- ment to Notre Dame April 24, the Atlanta Marist School safety was a three-star prospect with a five-star of- fer list that included Georgia, Ohio State, Clemson, Auburn, Florida State, Michigan, Stanford and several others. Since committing to Notre Dame, earning an invite to Nike Football's The Opening Finals, being selected to play in All-American Bowl in San Antonio this January, and beginning his senior season with three touch- downs, two blocked field goals and an interception through three games, Hamilton has started to receive signifi- cant national attention. In its mid-August rankings update, Rivals elevated him to four-star status and listed him as the No. 227 overall player in the class of 2019. Blue & Gold Illustrated football ana- lyst Bryan Driskell has him tied with Fort Worth (Texas) Nolan Catholic de- fensive end NaNa Osafo-Mensah as the second-best player among Notre Dame's 2019 commitments, just be- hind Edina (Minn.) High offensive tackle Quinn Carroll. Those who have been around Ham- ilton for some time said his rise to na- tional prominence comes as no sur- prise. "I've seen great commitment and progression of his leadership," Marist head coach Alan Chadwick said. "He made the decision after basketball sea- son last year to not play this year, and since then, he's elevated his commit- ment toward football and his prepara- tion." Hamilton plays defensive back, wide receiver, and at times quarter- back and punter for Marist. Chadwick said having an asset like Hamilton has been crucial to his team's success, which included a run to the Georgia Class AAAA state championship game in 2017. "We can't afford to not have him on the field," Chadwick said. "He can erase a lot of mistakes by a lot of other people." Another accolade came for Hamil- ton before the season even kicked off, when the Touchdown Club of Atlanta named him to the watch list for its Georgia Player of the Year award. "We thought he was very worthy," club representative Tyler Caswell said. "To be that good, on a team that's that good with that much history, and he's getting that kind of praise, he's doing something right." Recruiting can be a hectic experience for a teenager, and there are count- less stories about prospects that let the glitz and glamour of recruitment go to their heads. Hamilton won't be one of them. "I never got into stuff like that," Hamilton said. "It's cool to say I'm a four-star, but everyone knows once you get to college, nobody cares about stars. I carry that with me in high school. "Even if everybody knows you, you still have to play well. It doesn't mat- ter how high you're ranked. It comes down to how well you play." That lesson — that stars, rankings and all-star games are meaningless once you step foot on a college campus — isn't one that kids Hamilton's age learn early. But thanks to his upbring- ing, Hamilton has been approaching football, school and everything else like a business since he was young. Hamilton's father, Derrek Hamilton, was selected by the New Jersey Nets with the 52nd overall pick in the 1988 NBA Draft after averaging 19.1 points per game during his senior year at Southern Miss. Overall, Hamilton spent more than a decade playing professional basket- ball, including a long career abroad. After retiring from basketball in 2003, he founded Pro Purpose Develop- ment, a pre-draft basketball training company that has worked with the likes of Rajon Rondo, Iman Shumpert, Jodie Meeks and several other NBA players. Hamilton has spent a lot of time around his father's company, and his father said getting to see how NBA players approached their own work was a huge help when the craziness of recruiting came along. "Kyle has grown up around pro- fessional athletes, and the way he handled recruiting was like he'd been there before," the elder Hamilton said. "Nothing was overwhelming for him, and I attribute to the guys I work with. "He's grown up not being too flashed out about stuff." Chadwick agreed that the time spent around professionals was huge for Hamilton's development. "The more you're exposed to that, it helps you socially and it helps your confidence," Chadwick stated. "It gets you focused on where you want to go, what you want to do and what you want to accomplish. It's worked out pretty well." Landing Hamilton in the class of 2019 was a significant win for Notre Dame on the recruiting trail to be sure, and the character comes as an added bonus. With a stoic smile and an even-keel attitude, Hamilton takes the field Fri- day nights with no stars or all-star game invites attached to his name, ready to play just about every position for Marist. He'll do the same on Saturdays in South Bend next fall. ✦ Kyle Hamilton Stays Grounded As Ranking Rises Rivals ranks Hamilton as a four-star prospect, the No. 27 player in Georgia, and the No. 18 safety and No. 227 prospect nationally. PHOTO COURTESY RIVALS.COM

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