Louisville Football is pulling in talented players left and right lately. Just last week, they picked up four commits in two days. Yesterday, they picked up 3 Star WR Demetrius Cannon. Now, they have picked up yet another commitment from 3 Star GA OLB Jackson Hamilton.
Hamilton stands 6-foot-1 and weighs in at 205 lbs. He chose the Cards over offers from Florida State, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Indiana, Boston College, Missouri, and Kentucky, among others. 247sports ranks Hamilton as the 912th best prospect nationally and the 60th best at his position.
Hamilton plays for Blessed Trinity Catholic High School in Roswell, GA. A force on the field last fall, Hamilton had 66 total tackles which included 38 solo tackles and 9 tackles for loss. Hamilton was able to intercept 1 pass and broke up 3 others. Opposing QBs were sacked twice by Hamilton and he forced a fumbles as well. With his stellar play, Hamilton was named 1st Team 7-AAAA All Region.
Shawn and Sam both looked at Hamilton’s highlights and broke down what they saw. Here’s what they had to say:
Watching Jackson Hamilton, it’s obvious he’s a tremendous athlete and a weapon at OLB. He’s not a specialist in that, he doesn’t just pass rush, just cover, or just stop the run. Nope. Hamilton does all three of those things and does them well. As a pass rusher, he uses his speed off the edge to beat blockers and get to the QB. As a run stopper, Hamilton reads, reacts, and tackles the ball carrier. He’s a very good tackler (stop me if you’ve heard that about the defensive recruits in this class) and can bring some big hits as well. When defending the pass, he can defend one-on-one or defend in a zone scheme. He’s a do-it-all type of LB.
What makes Hamilton, in my opinion, truly special is his ability to cover. You can line him up 1-on-1 against slot receivers or WRs. It doesn’t matter because he can cover either and do it well. He’s got the speed to stay with them going deep and hips that are fluid which he can flip and change direction quickly. He knows how to stay on the receiver’s hip and use his long arms to knock passes down. In zone coverage, Hamilton may even be better as he uses his eyes to simultaneously watch his zone while watching the QB’s eyes. When a pass is thrown to a receiver in his zone, Hamilton really drives on the ball and receiver to either knock the pass away or make a big hit. His acceleration and speed show in this scenario.
Another scenario that shows off his acceleration and speed, among other skills, is Hamilton’s pass rushing. Hamilton, when lined up on the edge close to the line of scrimmage, is a deadly pass rusher. He’s great at timing the snap and getting a great jump. His acceleration to top speed is quick and he’s able to usually be by blockers before they have a chance to lay a hand upon him. Once he gets to the QB, Hamilton wallops them. One highlight, he hammers a QB and forces a fumble. When a blocker is able to engage him, Hamilton has the strength and long arms to shed the block and continue to the QB. While his highlights don’t show a ton of him rushing the passer, I think he can be used in that role even more and be highly effective.
Hamilton, like so many of the second level defenders Louisville has committed in this class, is excellent at reading plays and reacting. This talent shows up especially in defending against the run and screen passes. Hamilton is able to stay disciplined and trust his eyes. He allows the play to develop and quickly diagnoses what the offense is doing and then makes his move. He has the lateral quickness and speed to quickly work his way down the line if it’s a run play going away from him and make the tackle. He never over-pursues. If the running play is coming to his side, he stays disciplined. Hamilton knows he has the athletic tools to be able to be patient. Once the RB commits to a course, Hamilton attacks and brings down the runner. His acceleration and speed afford him the ability to stay disciplined and be patient.
As a tackler, he is stellar. He keeps his head up, his lower half low and balanced, and wraps up. When contact is made, he drives his legs and drives the opponent down. Some of his tackles, he gets a head of steam and, while wrapping up, really pops RBs and WRs. You can tell he rocks them.
One other thing Jackson does well is shed blocks. Many times, he’s able to get lower that the blocker and gain the leverage advantage. Hamilton uses both the power and length of his arms to shed blocks. The length he uses to keep blockers from getting their hands in good blocking position. The strength he uses to discard them to the side and continue on his course to the ball carrier or QB. Sometimes, he uses his quickness and agility to avoid blockers altogether. Other times, he just lowers his shoulder and runs through a would-be blocker.
The versatility Jackson Hamilton has makes him an every down defender in my mind. Versatility is the name of the recruiting game for the Cards on defense; especially when in comes to the second level. Hamilton should be able to line up in a few different positions depending on the situation and contribute for the defense.
The theme of this recruiting class seems to be position flexibility and versatility, Hamilton fits the theme perfectly. The uber talented 6’1 210lb Jackson Hamilton played a little bit of running back in high school as well as all over the secondary on defense.
Hamilton runs a 4.5 forty, but plays a lot faster than his dictates. Hamilton is a really explosive and quick, he also has an impressive 36.5 vertical leap. The 6’1 210lb Jackson is deceptively strong, he can squat over 400 pounds and has a broad jump of 10’3.
Hamilton’s quickness and speed really stands out when he’s lined up in the box as an edge rusher. His ability to shed blockers and bend corners on his way to the quarterback is phenomenal. Hamilton’s speed makes him extremely difficult to block, he also uses his arms to keep blockers from engaging with him on his way to the ball carrier. When blockers are able to get their hands on Jackson, he uses his strength to quickly disengage.
Whether Hamilton plays OLB or Safety, CardNation should feel good about his tackling. Jackson always takes great pursuit angles and has great form. Jackson also isn’t afraid to bring the ‘BOOM’ when he has the opportunity. Hamilton doesn’t often sell out for the big hit, which is a great thing and helps make him a sure and reliable tackler.
If Hamilton is moved down to linebacker, I see him as an every down linebacker. A do it all athlete, Hamilton can cover receivers as well as tackle ball carriers equally well. Whether he’s playin man or zone defense, Hamilton shows great eye discipline in not getting tricked with multiple misdirections by the offense. He has great awareness and diagnoses run and plays very quickly. Once Hamilton reads pass, he uses his quickness to be able get into position where he can make a play on the ball or receiver. Whether he’s lined up opposite a slot receiver or covering a running back out the backfield, his speed and fluid hips help aid his coverage ability.
Jackson Hamilton will be a versatile, every down OLB for Louisville. Hamilton can do basically anything asked of him on a football field. He will cover WRs, slot receivers, and TEs. He will rush the passer and stop the run. There aren’t that many OLBs in the nation that can do all of those things proficiently, but Jackson Hamilton is one of these players. Hamilton reminds me some of Cardinal Forever James Burgess. Both have similar size and skill sets. I anticipate that Hamilton will make an All-ACC Team at some point, maybe multiple. I think he definitely has the potential to be a NFL Draft pick as well. It will be fun watching him hopefully grow and reach that potential in his 3 or 4 years as a Card.
With Jackson Hamilton’s commitment, Louisville now has 18 total commits for 2021. 247sports still ranks the class 18th nationally and 4th in the ACC. This staff is killing it so far and is now looking to finish out this class strong.