Okay, so Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly didn’t use the word “awesome” to describe Kyle Hamilton at Media Day yesterday, but he finally did admit that the freshman phenom is good. Really, really good.
“As much as I’ve been trying to tamp down Kyle Hamilton for Heisman, he’s a really good player,” Kelly finally admitted. “He’s a really good player that has showed up every day in some fashion. He has a unique skill set.”
Up until yesterday, Kelly had tried to play coy with the media when asked about Hamilton and the hype train that came flying out of the station from the onset of training camp at Culver. As the interceptions and forced fumbles in practice have mounted, though, it was finally impossible for Kelly to continue to the charade.
And this comes full circle with Kelly essentially saying today "look, the guy is unbelievable what do you want from me he's the best safety I've ever coached and probably will ever coach and I should probably think about leaving the profession in three years when he leaves" https://t.co/pp3HIBBi8k
— Greg Flammang (@greg2126) August 21, 2019
Notre Dame has a special player on their hands right now.
From a physical standpoint, Hamilton is a unique specimen. When asked about what makes Hamilton so good so fast, Kelly talked a lot about his physical traits.
“His size. 6’3″, 6’4″, very unique to have the suddenness and change of direction which offers him incredible range, obviously, and length as a pass defender,” Kelly said.
A lot of players are big though. What makes Hamilton unique is his combination of size and change of direction. “Can’t tell that I’ve seen a player that can change direction and carry himself with that kind of range on the back end. That’s unusual,” Kelly added.
What makes Hamilton stand apart from other freshmen who have arrived with unique skillsets, however, is the mental ask of the game. “Instincts. He hasn’t even watched film yet. When he sees a play, he’s able to diagnose it (snapping fingers),” Kelly said. “I was telling Terry Joseph, you know, that’s great coaching. But it’s clearly the young man has great instincts and he’s gifted,” he joked.
We’ve lost count at this point of how many interceptions Hamilton has had in practice already, but conservative estimates are that it’s well north of 10 already. Ten! This is a kid who didn’t enroll early and who is still less than 15 practices into his collegiate career.
From almost day one Hamilton has looked like part of – if not the entire – answer at nickel. He has spent most of his time at nickel and has been running with the first team much more often than not. He is going to play. And he is going to play a lot this fall.
What Notre Dame will need to monitor is Hamilton hitting the freshman wall. It’s already happened to a lesser extent in camp, and like everything else, Hamilton impressed in that department as well according to Kelly.
“How does a young player fight through that inevitable wall that you’re going to hit? I think that’s probably the first thing that impressed me, was that he fought through that freshman wall,” Kelly explained.
“Probably happened last weekend where he kind of hit that wall a little bit, but he fought through it,” he added. “(He) didn’t miss a practice. That was impressive for a freshman. He’s in a contact position, and he fought through it. That’s unusual. He’s got some toughness that you don’t teach at that young of an age.
Add this all up, and it’s impossible not to think that Notre Dame might have another generational type talent on its hands. We saw the same with Jaylon Smith not too long ago. Smith, by the way, signed a well earned MASSIVE contract extension with the Dallas Cowboys earlier this week.
The difference with Hamilton in comparison to Smith is that Hamilton won’t have Brian Vangorder around to waste a potential generational talent like he pretty much did with Smith. Vangorder’s awful defenses made Smith play the role of cleaning up everyone else’s messes instead of being the game-changing player he has shown to be. The fact that Smith won the Butkus Award and was a 2nd round pick after shredding his knee in spite of Vangorder is still remarkable.
Back to Hamilton though. Notre Dame has something special on its hands, and everything that we’ve seen from Clark Lea and Terry Joseph indicates that they won’t get in the way as Vangorder did. That should have Notre Dame fans thrilled.
Brian Kelly tried to slow down the “Kyle Hamilton for Heisman” hype as long as he could, but it was impossible to any longer. Kyle Hamilton is good folks. He’s really, really good. We know it. Brian Kelly knows it. And the rest of the college football world is about to know it in 11 days.