Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton exits USC game with apparent knee injury

Tyler James
ND Insider

SOUTH BEND — All-American safety Kyle Hamilton was the last Notre Dame football player to reach the tunnel to the locker room at halftime of Saturday night’s home game against USC. 

Hamilton left the game late in the first quarter after he shoved USC wide receiver Drake London out of bounds on a 29-yard completion. Hamilton went to the ground awkwardly with an apparent injury to his right knee. 

During the second quarter, Notre Dame officials announced the 6-foot-4, 220-Hamilton was questionable to return to the game with a lower-body injury, but Hamilton’s obvious limp and slow walking pace all but eliminated any chance of him playing in the second half against the Trojans.

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After Hamilton entered the injury tent on Notre Dame’s sideline, he emerged with a wrap of some sort on his right knee. He remained on the sideline in the second quarter without his helmet. 

Update: Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly described Hamilton's injury as a pinched fat pad in Hamilton's right knee after the 31-16 win over USC and didn't rule out that Hamilton could play the following week against North Carolina.

Hamilton, a junior, recorded two tackles in the first quarter before his injury. He entered the game second on Notre Dame’s roster with 33 tackles in addition to his four pass breakups, three interceptions and two tackles for a loss. 

Notre Dame’s Kyle Hamilton (14) celebrates after a big stop early during the Notre Dame-USC NCAA college football game on Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend.

The No. 13 Irish (5-1) led USC (3-3) 17-3 at halftime.

Notre Dame replaced Hamilton with senior DJ Brown at free safety in the first half. The Irish also used graduate senior Isaiah Pryor, who played rover linebacker in the first six games, as a strong safety in rotation with grad senior Houston Griffith. Before Hamilton’s injury, Brown would rotate with Griffith during games. 

Hamilton, a former five-star recruit out of Atlanta, was projected by most draft analysts as an early first-round pick in next year’s NFL Draft if he chooses to leave early. 

Follow ND Insider Tyler James on Twitter: @TJamesNDI.