Defensive end Darius Hamilton from Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco Prep is used to the attention. After all, his father is Keith Hamilton who played 12 years for the New York Giants and won a Super Bowl and Darius plays for arguably the top high school program in the country and is ranked as the nation's No. 5 overall player. However, despite all the genetics and accolades, he was stunned and humbled when he was chosen as a U.S. Army All-American.
"I didn't expect it honestly," said the 6-foot-4, 245-pounder. "There are so many great players around the country so it's such a great honor. We were all honored because we put in so much work so it was kind of icing on the cake knowing we could all play together one more game before college."
When Hamilton speaks of "we" he is also talking about his three teammates, Yuri Wright, Elijah Shumate and Leonte Carroo, who also received their U.S. Army All-American Bowl jerseys at school on Thursday. When Hamilton was offered, there was no doubt about his decision.
"I watched the game last year and the word that comes to mind is classy," he said. "No disrespect to the Under Armour Game but the Army Bowl is for the troops and it's more about character than flash. Bosco teaches you to represent yourself with character and I think all four of us will do that in San Antonio. We'll also represent the school and New Jersey football."
Hamilton helped lead his team to an undefeated 11-0 season this year boasting wins over out-of-state programs like Mission Viejo, Manatee and St. Edward as well as two wins over in-state rival Bergen Catholic. For Hamilton, who finished with four sacks in his final game as a Bosco player, the season was great.
"We worked really hard to achieve this and everyone was out for us," he said. "We were the No. 1 game on everyone's schedule and people were coming at us, but we fought through it and finished the way we wanted to. I'm proud of our team."
Now Hamilton is ready for the next challenge, taking on some massive offensive linemen in San Antonio on NBC Jan. 7. Being a top 5 player, he knows he'll have a target on his back.
"I expect guys to be gunning for me," he said. "That's what comes with playing on a great team that everyone knows about and being ranked so highly. I don't care much about rankings but I know a lot of players do so they'll be gunning for me. But that's okay, I like the challenge."
Hamilton is ranked as the third-best defensive lineman in the country and understands he is currently much smaller than the other two. However, he feels in a year or two he will have begun to reach his full potential.
"Guys like Eddie Goldman and Mario Edwards are huge, those guys are monsters and much bigger than me," he said. "Eddie is 320 pounds and I got to see him in person and he looks like a college player already and Mario is more than 300 pounds as well, he just looks huge. These guys are great players and I'm only 245 pounds right now so people can be surprised a bit when they see me. But I'll be 285 in a couple of years and I think I'm further away from my potential. I can't wait to go against the bigger linemen down in San Antonio because it will only prepare me for college and make me that much better."
Hamilton could play defensive tackle, his position in high school, or defensive end at the Army Bowl.
"I don't care, I'll line up wherever they need me," he said. "Maybe they'll move me around from play to play. The more snaps the better so whatever they want from me is great. I saw how the East defensive line destroyed things last year and I want us to keep that going."
Now that the season is over, Hamilton can now focus on recruiting. He has two official visits scheduled and a few others he wants to take.
"I am going to Florida this weekend and Cal the weekend after that," he said. "I will also take an official to Tennessee in January and probably to Oklahoma as well. After that I will figure out what my fifth visit is going to be. It could be Rutgers, it could be South Cal because they just came out here to see me recently or it could be Ohio State because Urban Meyer called and when he calls, you are interested. Urban Meyer is a great coach."
Hamilton had originally planned to announce his decision on Dec. 23 on local cable but that decision was pushed back after Oklahoma came to see him.
"I realized then that there are other schools I need to see before I make this decision," he said. "I don't want to miss anything or make a mistake. I'm taking my visits for a reason, it's not to have fun, I really want to see these schools and learn about them."
At one time Rutgers was considered the team to beat, is that still the case?
"I really like Rutgers and the coaches and I am so comfortable there, I've been there so many times it feels like home," he said. "But right now I can't really say anything until I take these visits and see places. I've only seen Rutgers so far. I need to compare things."
In the meantime, Hamilton has now been presented with his Army jersey and has a trip to San Antonio to have some fun before his second round of visits.
"It will be good to get back to football I'm sure," he said. "I hear it's a lot of fun down there and going with my teammates will make it even better. I'm looking forward to it."