If the Florida Gators miss out on four-star defensive end Darius Hamilton (6-3/245, Ramsey, N.J./Don Bosco Prep), it won’t be because of lack of effort.
Florida defensive line coach Bryant Young paid Hamilton and his parents a visit Thursday night, and Florida defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is expected to visit Hamilton on Monday night.
In addition to the two visits, Hamilton has scheduled an official visit to Florida for Dec. 9.
For Hamilton, the visit by Young on Thursday wasn’t just about football, it was about academics. Hamilton is planning on majoring in journalism or communications at whatever school he decides to attend.
“Coach [Bryant] Young came and met my mother and father,” Hamilton said. “This visit was more about academics than football itself. He was basically just letting me know how the Florida Gators were as far as their journalism and communications programs were. We talked about how they help students out as far as academics and tutors and things like that.”
Hamilton has scheduled an official visit to Cal for Dec. 16 in addition to his Florida visit. He will take his remaining three visits after the U.S. Army Bowl in San Antonio on Jan. 7. Though he has yet to decide his final three visits, Rutgers, LSU and Tennessee are all in the mix for Hamilton.
With Florida and Cal as his only scheduled visits, it’s a school in his home town that might be considered the frontrunner for Hamilton’s signature. Hamilton said though he likes Rutgers, he hasn’t been to other schools and has no leader at this point.
“Rutgers is one of the only places I’ve seen,” he said. “I live in New Jersey, so of course anytime Rutgers has a game, I’ll be there. That’s just me. It is a great place, but at the same time it’s the only place I’ve been. I’m looking forward to taking my officials.”
Florida struggled under new head coach Will Muschamp this season, but Hamilton thinks that the Gators have a lot of potential on defense.
“They struggled a little bit this year, they were 6-6, but they have a great young team,” Hamilton said. “Especially with Coach Young and Dan Quinn. The defensive line is young, but they are very good. They [will lose] a core player on the defensive line (senior defensive tackle Jaye Howard) and I feel like it would be a good fit for me.”
Hamilton sees Cal as a place that could help him get to the next level.
“I think that coach Tosh [Lupoi] is a real good coach," he said. "He’s coached back-to-back first-round defensive ends in the draft the last two years. They are definitely a good program defensively.”
Hamilton, who is ranked the No. 6 defensive end and 66th player overall in the country in the ESPNU 150, said his decision will come down to the relationships he develops at each school.
“It will come down to the relationships with the people,” he said, “the relationships I have with players and coaches. I’m looking for for a place that is like my high school now, that’s real family oriented -- everybody cares about one another.”
Projected by many to be a defensive end on the next level, Hamilton says he prefers to play tackle in college.
“I don’t play defensive end, I play defensive tackle,”Hamilton said. “I’m a defensive tackle, I’ve played defensive tackle my whole life. I’ll play anywhere the coaches want me to play, but if I had a preference it would be at defensive tackle.”
Hamilton is not sure where the Gators are recruiting him but thinks he would get a shot at every position on the defensive front.
“I feel like if I was to end up there, they would try me at every position and see which one I do the best at.”