Darius Hamilton Q&A: 'I really want to get this program turned around'
The wait was long for Darius Hamilton is over. Finally. The monster Rutgers defensive tackle is back on the field, ready to create some havoc and be one of the Big Ten’s best interior linemen.
The 6-3, 286-pound senior missed 11 games last season due to a lower body injury and was granted a medical redshirt. Now, he’s back for a fifth season and primed for the season opener at Washington this Saturday.
And he hopes to make the debut of new Scarlet Knights’ coach Chris Ash a successful one after arriving at Rutgers as the No. 3 defensive lineman in the nation according to SuperPrep. But the West Paterson, New Jersey, and Don Bosco Prep product wanted to stay home and help build the Scarlet Knight program.
Hamilton is the anchor of one of the Big Ten most underrated defensive lines that he anchors inside. Next to him is Sebastian Joseph. The ends are Quanzell Lambert and Julian Pinnix-Odrick. It’s a veteran front, as Joseph is the lone junior among a trio of senior projected starters.
The first three-time captain in school annals, Hamilton comes from good bloodlines as father Keith was a 12-year NFL defensive lineman. He uses that pedigree to help linemates.
I caught up with Hamilton as he prepped for the season-opening trip vs. a Huskies squad that is ranked in the preseason.
Q: What’s it like to finally be healthy?
A: Exciting. I have been waiting a long time. Getting back after it.
Q: How did you cope?
A: It was hard. But I surrounded myself with great people … my parents, my sister and other friends. They all were there for me. They kept me uplifted every day, saying nothing but good things.
Q: How good can this defensive line be?
A: I may be biased, but I think it’s our strongest unit. You have guys like myself, Julian (Pinnix-Odrick), Quanzell (Lambert), Sebastian (Joseph). Kevin Wilkins is tremendously talented. Myles Nash is growing up and playing some good ball for us lately. Jimmy Hogan and Darnell Davis, John Bateky, Eric Wiafe … we have a great group of guys who come out every day and try to get better. We push each other. It will be a strong unit for a while.
Q: What has Chris Ash meant to the program?
A: Coach Ash expects nothing but the best from you, and he expects you to give everything you’ve got every day. In return, he’ll do all he can for you. That has been one of the truest sentiments about him. The changes that have gone on around here are amazing. I am blessed to be here.
Q: What benefit is it that your dad, Keith, was a pro defensive lineman?
A: It is great. He knows how much it means to me. Everything I know about football I have learned from him—the majority of it, at least. It always has been a blessing to have him there, a person who knows what I want to do. Any question I ever had or things I didn’t understand, to have my own coach away from the field has meant a great deal to me.
Q: Any individual goals in 2016?
A: I don’t really have any individual goals for stats. I just want to go out and be the same player I was. Play hard, play passionate and leave it all on the field. I will keep doing that and let everything fall into place.
Q: Is Rutgers a bowl team this season?
A: I hope so. I really want to get this program turned around. I think we have the right people with the right attitude to do it.