This wasn’t even a question earlier in the week.
Don Bosco Prep defensive end Darius Hamilton is down to Rutgers and Florida, but most of the recruiting gurus thought this was a slam dunk for the Scarlet Knights following his official visit to Piscataway, N.J. this past weekend.
Enter the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
On Thursday, the Bucs hired Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano and Hamilton’s world got turned upside down.
The five-star prospect was scheduled to meet with Schiano and his coaching staff at 8 a.m. that morning.
Five Rutgers assistants made it to his high school, but Schiano never showed.
“The coaches were kind of shocked,” Don Bosco coach Greg Toal told ESPN. “They said ‘Coach Schiano, he’s never late for anything.’ ”
Then the news broke and everyone was caught off guard.
Now Hamilton and his teammate, Rutgers receiver commit Leonte Carroo, are left scrambling with National Signing Day less than a week away.
“They’re concerned,” Toal said. “Both guys are real concerned. They have to be. They believed Coach Schiano was going to be their coach. … You can’t blame these kids. They want some stability and they want some answers. They want to know where this thing is going. No question.”
Despite the uncertainty, Toal said Hamilton won’t delay his decision, which is set for Jan. 31 at 8 p.m.
So will Schiano’s departure be enough to bring Hamilton to Florida? I spoke with ESPN’s National Recruiting Director Tom Luginbill on Thursday and this was his answer.
“I think it all depends on what type of a relationship had been established with Greg Schiano,” Luginbill said. “But at the end of the day, I would hope that there’s always more substance to a prospect’s decision on where to go than just an individual relationship with a coach. Because as you know, it’s a volatile profession. The likelihood that you’re gonna play for the guy that recruited you — your position coach or your head coach — for four or five years isn’t very high. So there better be more substance to your decision.”
Hamilton can take this thing in two directions, and here’s a recent example similar to his situation. For the sake of analysis, let’s say both Jeff Driskel and Ryan Shazier were uncommitted when Urban Meyer retired last year.
Shazier realized that his interest in UF was because of Meyer and went to Ohio State, while Driskel was sold on Florida’s program and chose the Gators.
Hamilton is the same predicament. Will he head to Gainesville because of his familiarity with Muschamp & Co., or does staying home mean more to him than a coach or any other factors?
“If he feels it’s all about relationships, then I think it’s gonna hurt Rutgers,” Luginbill said. “If it’s about who Rutgers is and who Florida is, then I think he’ll make his decision for what he feels is the best environment for him to fit into to.
“But I’ve always felt, at some point or another during the decision-making process, you’ve gotta sit back and say to yourself, ‘if I could never play football again, would I be happy at this institution socially and academically?’ Those things need to be thought about, and when they are you make pretty good decisions.”
Hamilton has til Tuesday night to make his.
But if these comments below still ring true, the Scarlet Knights might have the edge because he knows so many commits and current players on their roster.
From Zach’s Mail Stack 1/18:
Hamilton said his final decision will come down to playing time and finding the best fit for him.
“I don’t really know where I’m going yet,” Hamilton said. “I wanna be able to compete for a job early. I feel like if I get a chance I will make the most out of it. I also wanna go where I can fit in and get along with the players. Coaches come and go, but those are gonna be the people you’re around for the next four years. And then just the place where I feel the most comfortable.”