S Kyle Hamilton, 6-3, 205; Atlanta Marist.
The numbers: Hamilton tallied 72 tackles, four interceptions, one tackle for a loss, one forced fumble and eight pass breakups in his senior season at Marist. On offense, Hamilton totaled 27 carries for 272 yards and two touchdowns and 38 catches for 804 yards and seven touchdowns. Hamilton also returned a punt and a kickoff for one touchdown each.
The War Eagles (11-3) ended their season with a 17-14 loss to Cartersville in a GHSA Class AAAA state semifinal.
The rankings: 247Sports – Five stars, No. 1 S. Rivals – Four stars, No. 4 S.
First impression: Hamilton is a natural athlete who makes everything look easy. His coverage skills are advanced for a high school safety, and he’s physical as a tackler. A five-star rating seems fitting for Hamilton.
Strengths: Hamilton is an active safety. His coverage skills aren’t limited to keeping everything in front of him. He can run with receivers who are trying to run by him, or stick with receivers making cuts on their routes. Hamilton changes directions with ease. He has special ball skills, which he’s shown as a safety and a wide receiver. Jump balls against him aren’t a 50-50 proposition. He’s going to prevent a completion at a high rate. Hamilton can cover a lot of ground in run defense. He has the speed to close the gap on a ball carrier and the physicality to take him down in the open field. He packs a pretty good punch when he delivers hits with some momentum.
Proof of prowess: (:08) Hamilton sticks all over a wide receiver who motions to his side of the field. He quickly reacts to his outside cut and keeps within an arm’s length and turns and runs with the receiver when he tries to extend the play for a scrambling quarterback. Hamilton may have gotten away with a slight hold, which allows him to stick with the receiver, who appeared to have a chance of getting open. Hamilton tracks down the ball and pulls it out of the air with one hand … (1:02) Hamilton reads the quarterback keep from his safety position and charges down the field fast. After the quarterback makes one defender miss, he’s met with a thud and wrapped up tightly by Hamilton … (2:19) Hamilton covers a lot of ground in a short amount of time to prevent a touchdown run. Hamilton’s off to the left outside of the hash when the ball is snapped. The running back takes the carry to Hamilton’s right. Hamilton still hasn’t quite come into frame when the running back finds a big hole and what appears to be a clear path of 25 yards to the end zone. Then Hamilton zooms across the screen, adjusts his angle and takes down the running back at the 2-yard line.
Competition level: There’s no shortage of talent in Georgia. 247Sports even named it the top talent-producing state for the 2019 class by having 19 of the top 150 players in the 247Sports Composite rankings. While its exact ranking can be debated, the Peach State has definitely entered the conversation for elite status alongside Florida, Texas and California.
In Hamilton’s senior season, Marist played against four of the top 25 teams in the state, per MaxPreps rankings: Blessed Trinity (No. 3), Cartersville (No. 9), Mary Persons (No. 21) and St. Pius X Catholic (No. 25). Even though Marist plays in Class AAAA, which is two classes below the top classification, six of the top 25 teams in the state were in AAAA.
Hamilton performed well against top competition. Against Cartersville, Hamilton recorded two interceptions on passes from three-star quarterback Tee Webb, a 2019 Louisville signee. Cartersville tight end Jackson Lowe, a Tennessee signee, only caught two passes for 30 yards. Hamilton and the Marist defense limited Lovett quarterback Blaine McAllister, a three-star recruit in the 2020 class, to 14-of-32 passing for 129 yards and one touchdown. McAllister threw three interceptions including one to Hamilton.
Denmark wide receiver Ze’vian Capers, a 2020 Arkansas commit, put up big stats against Marist (seven catches for 134 yards and one TD), but most of it came after Hamilton was out of the game in a 57-7 blowout win for Marist.
Left to prove: There aren’t a lot of obvious question marks with Hamilton’s game. The most immediate question will be how soon he can make an impact on Notre Dame’s defense. The Irish are set at the starting safety spots, with Alohi Gilman and Jalen Elliott, but the nickelback position remains wide open. At times in the spring, Elliott manned the nickel spot. If Notre Dame tried that in the fall, could Hamilton be the next safety on the field in Elliott’s original position? Or could Hamilton get a shot at nickelback? The latter may be a tougher ask for a freshman, but Hamilton may fare better there than Houston Griffith did as a freshman in 2018. Hamilton will need to prove to be a quick study with the defensive scheme if he wants a shot at either position. Hamilton still has room to add weight to his tall frame without impeding his speed or agility.