Diamond in the Rough: Adrian Hamilton, DE, Prairie View A&M

Adrian HamiltonDallas Carter High School has always been known for their competitive football program which has produced a few top players and talents in the NFL. Michael Crabtree (WR), Jessie Armstead (DE/OLB), and Greg Hill (RB) are just a few that have all gone on to have successful careers in the NFL.

Adrian Hamilton was named Defensive Player of the Year in 2005, leading the team in tackles and QB pressures. He was invited to play in an All Star game but had already committed to a NCAA School.  In 2006, Defensive End Adrian Hamilton was on a mission to be the next big player to come out of Dallas Carter, but there would be a few obstacles that would try to slow down the 6’3, 255 pound defensive end from Prairie View A & M.

 

Hamilton committed to Oklahoma State in 2006 and was ready to start his journey at the collegiate level, with hopes of eventually accomplishing his dreams of one day playing in the NFL.  Hamilton had a problem though; Oklahoma State had ran out of scholarships to give out. They asked if he would be willing to Grey Shirt for a season. (For those of you that don’t know, this occurs when a NCAA school signs more than their allotted 25 recruits in a particular class. The player that commits to the team has to pay his own way through school for a semester to preserve his eligibility). This was a major obstacle for Adrian because the promise Oklahoma State had made to him didn’t ring true any longer.

After deciding that Oklahoma State maybe wasn’t the best place for him, Hamilton decided to return home to Texas. In 2007, Hamilton went to Lubbock, where he walked on to play for Texas Tech. In his first year with Texas Tech he was able to play in six games, finishing with a total of four tackles.  Hamilton enjoyed his time at Texas Tech, where he played with former high school teammate Michael Crabtree.

“Michael is an amazing athlete, I was amazed to see my high school quarterback, dominating the league as one of the best Wide Receivers in the nation,” Adrian said, “It really helped me because we were from the same neighborhood and we could talk about life because we could relate.”

During his tenure for Texas Tech, he played a very limited rotational role, but was able to get his feet wet in the major college game.  He was learning a new defensive scheme and picked it up fairly quickly. In 2007, the Red Raiders finished the season 9-4 and beat Virginia Cavaliers 31-28 in the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida. But despite the team success and the hope that Adrian could become a bigger part of this now successful team in the future, problems would arise.

In August of 2008, he was dismissed by Red Raiders per Coach Leach in a press conference, but wouldn’t elaborate. I asked Adrian about his dismissal.

“I was never dismissed, I was a walk on and couldn’t afford the payments of school anymore, it was getting really expensive.”

Hamilton’s journey was far from over, though.  He wanted to have the opportunity like fellow Dallas Carter grad Michael Crabtree to play in the NFL. In 2008, Adrian enrolled at Dallas Community College. This time, though, he knew what he had to do. Hamilton chose to not play football, but to maintain his eligibility to play football.  His main goal of going to DCC was to get his academics up and keep his eligibility to play football.

He was hoping for just one more chance to get an opportunity to show the promise he had displayed as a high school senior. In 2010, he had accomplished what he needed to do: increase his academic scores and keep his eligibility. The next step was to look for a program that would be willing to give him a chance to play football with his years of eligibility remaining.

“All I needed was a team, to give me a shot, and Coach Northern of Prairie View was willing to help me, and I am blessed for this opportunity.”

In 2010, Hamilton latched on with Prairie View A & M out of Texas on a full scholarship. It wasn’t going to be easy to get playing time in his first year for the Panthers, sitting behind three-time All-SWAC defensive end Quinton Spears and Jarvis Wilson. So, in limited time with the Prairie View defense, Hamilton finished the year with 5½ sacks, eight tackles for loss and a blocked punt return for a touchdown.

“It was not the easiest thing (being back on the field) because I had a tremendous first step. After two years, my first step was still good, but I had a lot more power. I guess it worked out for the best, because I have been able to use both of them together now to succeed.”

In 2011, Hamilton has become the quiet storm of the SWAC, leading the division in both Tackles for Loss (19.5) and is 1st in Sacks with 14.  Hamilton has been able to set the edge, and put tons of pressure on the Quarterback. He has some great speed off the block, and has been able to get put tons of pressure in the backfield. His vision is amazing, he has great instincts and long-arms which help him shut down the play.  He has been very hard to block this season, they move him around quite a bit, and he will rush from all over the field. He is a very tough kid and will continue to be a leader for the Prairie View defense. He was named FCS Defender of the Week with game at Southern where he had seven tackles, a forced a pair of fumbles and recorded four tackles-for-loss (two sacks).

“I have many goals, but one is to break Robert Mathis record of 20 sacks in one season.” Adrian is only 6 sacks away from tying his record right now, with four games remaining.

Adrian HamiltonDefensive Line Coach Gabe Northern saw something from Hamilton last season on film that caught his eye, “He can set the edge, he can bull rush, he can spin move. He does it all, he is not a player that needs to work on one of those techniques because he can do them all at a high level.”

Adrian’s defensive end coach Gabe Northern knows a thing or two about football as well. Gabe was an all American Defensive End from LSU who ended up being selected by the Buffalo Bills in the second round of the 1996 NFL draft. Gabe Northern is remembered, especially by Bills fans, for how much work he put in on and off the practice field. Now he’s combining his work ethic and coaching with Adrian’s impressive rushing talent.

“[Adrian] has a high level of football IQ, he has a high level of football skills,” Coach Northern explained.

“To me he should be a high NFL draft pick. What he has done on the field speaks for its self, I have become not only a coach of him but I am a fan of him as well.”

“He reminds me of myself, with the speed, power and technique, he has way better hands than I ever had, he has a spin move that Robert Mathis, and James Harrison have mastered, which would put him way ahead of me. If I was a second round pick, I think he has the physical capabilities to be a first round pick.”

“I played for some coaches that didn’t promote their kids correctly, we have coaches that have coached on all levels, we know we have a Diamond in the Rough, we need to let him do what he does best. The further he goes the further the program goes.”

Adrian Hamilton might have to overcome a few things, before he can hear his name selected in the draft, but if he continues to blow up plays in the backfield, and get sacks, he could make a strong push for the Buck Buchanan award.

If Adrian continues playing at this level, I am confident that he will be able to make it to the next level. He is a 23 year old senior that had to wait 5 years for his turn to shine and if he can keep up his production at Prairie View, his passion will lead him down the right path. That path is the one to success. It’s been a long journey from Dallas Carter stud to Oklahoma State recruit to playing at Prairie View fighting for attention, but with his display this season, he may get that NFL shot after all.

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