Brian Kelly Finally Admits Notre Dame Frosh Kyle Hamilton is Awesome

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.

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.

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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.

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9 comments

  1. david 1 month ago

    Kelly doesn’t have the security and confidence in HIMSELF to talk candidly and openly about the kid.

    What would any of the young, currently successful (or up-and-coming) crop of tier 1 coaches be saying and doing in the same situation?
    They’d be excited, giddy, and hyping the snot out of him! Getting reporters ready to spell his name right.

    But they aren’t yet professionally damaged goods, fixated on managing their fragile, soon expiring careers.

    Kelly is more scared to fail than he is excited to win.

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    1. Bruce G. Curme 1 month ago

      David! A lot of the “tier one” coaches have said publicly or privately that they do not believe they could win a national championship at Notre Dame under the restrictions that the University requires, including Urban Meyer and Greg Mattison who both have actually been coaches at Notre Dame. Yet Brian Kelly has always maintained that it can, and will, be done. So who is it really that suffers from a lack of confidence and security? It sure in hell is NOT Coach Kelly. Good luck finding a replacement for him in a few short years!
      I said this again and again…”give me a guy who believes in himself and in Notre Dame’s mission and values over a guy with three National Championships under his belt who whimpers and moans about the extra restrictions at ND.”

      David, you have the truth upside down! Your great “tier one” coaches won’t even come here because they firmly believe they’ll lose here, and they all know there are other places for them to go where it’s a whole lot easier to win big with a whole lot bigger paycheck on top. They are AFRAID to even try it at Notre Dame. God Bless Coach Kelly for believing in himself and in Notre Dame! And now his players, from top to bottom, believe in him and his assistants just as much as ARA’s and Devine’s believed. They are going to come out like the world’s end for the next few years. Watch and see.

      BGC ’77 ’82

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      1. ndcrazymike 4 weeks ago

        SO TRUE B G C !! MEYER and plenty of other coaches will tell you how difficult it is to win at ND with so many restrictions! MEYER turned down the job after ND refused to ease up on admissions and academic standards, he said he could not WIN with those restrictions!! Instead he has left a trail of scandal at FLA and OHIO ST. !! I admire how you try to explain things to dopey davey B G C, but it never helps him he”s a jackass!!!! Are best asset is dopey not watching the games, and posting comments proving his STUPIDITY!!

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    2. ndcrazymike 4 weeks ago

      WHO are these tier 1 coaches dopey?? Ya boy WILLIE ( the failure ) TAGGART , FROSTY, or how bout that genius coaching WISCONSIN!! So he should hype the hell out of a ” FRESHMAN ” who shows great ball skills or the 2 safeties ahead of him on the depth chart?? Kelly said Hamilton has been outstanding! What else would you like him to do hold his hand when they run out to the field? Get ready to go back to school dopey davey 7th grade will be tough for you!!!!

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    3. SteelFanBob 4 weeks ago

      Was just wondering what david might be thinking on this topic, thankfully he has commented.

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  2. ChrisJ 1 month ago

    So is Kelly going to be stubborn and not play him often? If he’s that good, then Nickel or Dime packages aren’t enough. Get him on the field if he’s better than one of our other starting safeties. Who cares that he’s a true freshman!! In a year where we are replenishing a lot of lost defense, let’s become the school everyone talks about “reloading” and not “rebuilding”.

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    1. Frank Vitovitch 1 month ago

      Who should Kelly bench in favor of Hamilton? Gilman who has been on several All-American teams or captain Jalen Elliott?

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      1. ChrisJ 4 weeks ago

        Frank, I didn’t say bench one of the other safeties, initially. I said Kelly needs to play him often, especially if he is already showing a skillset that matches or betters our other safeties. Get him as much experience as you can early and see how he compares with our current safeties. If he ends up being better, then at that time yes, bench one of the safeties for him. Looks like that would be Elliott considering the depth chart. I don’t want to see a stud freshman come in and get lost in special teams and basically waste ridiculously good talent. Elliott had a decent season last year but nothing outstanding. Him being a starter and upperclassmen in the backfield is what has earned him that C on his jersey. Kelly has shown loyalty to upperclassmen when younger guys might be better. All the other coaches are playing their freshmen studs, Saban at Bama, Dabo at Clemson….why not us!?

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  3. Bruce G. Curme 1 month ago

    Frank, the two most beautiful things you wrote in the article above is (1) everything about Hamilton and (2) ELEVEN DAYS!
    Thank you. Jesus!

    BGC ’77 ’82

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