The Notre Dame Fighting Irish have a roster full of players, and we want to talk about them all. One Foot Down’s player profile series will, once again, take a look at every single one of them, and hopefully we all learn a little bit more about these guys, and Notre Dame’s chances for the upcoming 2021 season.
#14 Kyle Hamilton, S
Kyle Hamilton is pretty good at football.
In case you’ve been in a coma or cryogenically frozen for the past 2 seasons, let me give you a brief reminder of why I think that. Hamilton came to Notre Dame in the 2019 recruiting class as a WELL-regarded prospect. Originally a 3-star, relatively unknown safety recruit when the Irish secured his commitment, the 6’3”, 190-lb freak athlete quickly elevated himself in all the recruiting rankings with his performances at camps and his final season with Marist School in Atlanta, Georgia.
By signing day, Hamilton had emerged as Notre Dame’s most elite signee, finishing as the #60 player nationally in the 247sports composite rankings (#5 at the safety position). 247sports themselves, though, thought even more highly of him — they made him a 5-star and ranked him as the #15 overall player in the class (and #1 at his position of safety).
In selecting Notre Dame, he turned down offers from at least a few decent football programs (Clemson, Auburn, FSU, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Ohio State, etc.) as well as some more...”aspirational peers” of the Fighting Irish, academically speaking (Princeton, Penn, Northwestern, Stanford*).
*Pat Rick Note: Harvard DID NOT OFFER Kyle Hamilton and you gotta think they’re KICKING themselves over that decision right about now.
Anyway, to put it simply: Kyle Hamilton was the kind of elite defensive back prospect that the Irish rarely pull in — you’d have to go back to Max Redfield or Tee Shepard for the last time ND pulled in a higher-rated DB in the 247sports composite scoring, and before them it was Darrin Walls and Raeshon McNeil.
So, with all that hype already, imagine how pumped the ND football beat and all ND football fans were getting when all the reports out of summer/fall practice in 2019 involved Kyle Hamilton just racking up the interceptions in practice. There’s simply no way the guy could actually live up to the excitement he’d created amongst the fans and media, right?
Hamilton came in as a true freshman and, despite not being a starter in 12 of 13 games in 2019 (because seniors Jalen Elliott and Alohi Gilman had the position locked down after a CFP season in 2018), he managed to lead the team in interceptions (4), including a 34-yard pick-six on his first defensive snap in Notre Dame Stadium.
He also racked up 41 tackles (1 TFL) and managed 6 passes defended, earning Freshman All-America honors from The Athletic.
Sophomore year for Hamilton was another master class in being elite and also improving over time. With the departures of Gilman and Elliott, Hamilton was named a starter on Clark Lea’s defense and put together a FANTASTIC season, despite missing 1.5 games due to an injury and a half-suspension due to a targeting penalty. In 10.5 games, he led the team in tackles with 63 (4.5 for loss), managed another 6 passes defended despite QBs rarely targeting receivers he was covering, and adding another INT for good measure.
He also made sure to show up in big games, accumulating 25 tackles, 3 passes defended, and 1 INT in the three games the Irish played against Clemson and Alabama.
He was named to the first team of the FWAA All-America Team, the Phil Steele All-America and All-ACC Teams, the All-ACC team, and the AP All-ACC Team. Additionally, he was named to the second team for the AFCA All-America Team, the Walter Camp All-America Team, and The Athletic All-America Team, and tacked on an AP All-America Third Team honor and being a Bednarik Award Semifinalist for good measure.
To cut a long story short (because I could write for PARAGRAPHS more about how good Hamilton was/is), I’ll leave it at this: the dude is GREAT, and he keeps getting better.
THE RESTAURANT THAT FITS
First, let me say that there is no restaurant worthy of being compared to our large adult son Kyle Hamilton. So the true answer here is NO RESTAURANT FITS.
I thought about Chick-Fil-A for a while because it’s so delicious and crushing the fast food industry right now, but Kyle’s inevitable elite production on Sundays makes me think that’s not the right fit.
Then I thought about one of my favorite restaurants in the world, a tiny Mexican restaurant in the back of a grocery store in Benton Harbor, MI called La Perla — but despite how wonderful that place is, it seemed too small-timey for Kyle.
So, I’m going to have to go with McDonald’s, the behemoth of fast food who I also personally think is still a very tasty spot for reliably delicious and wallet-friendly fare. The big thing here, I think, is that you can find a McDonald’s EVERYWHERE. Similarly, Kyle Hamilton can be found EVERYWHERE on the field on any given play, because his combination of size/length, speed, and football IQ allow him to always be where you need him to be.
Add in that the fries at McDonald’s are truly elite french fries, and Kyle Hamilton is truly an elite player in various key skills, and I just think there are few restaurants that make more sense here than Mickey D’s. Kyle is like a McDonald’s location with the McFlurry machine working, a Play Place for the kids, and extra-friendly service. Truly top-tier.
Live look at all of us when Kyle Hamilton got a pick-six on his first defensive snap at home:
This might be the easiest outlook I ever write. Assuming Kyle stays healthy (knocking on all the wood within a 100-mile radius in typing that), he will somehow show in his junior season that he’s gotten even better, and will put up numbers (tackles, INT, PD) across the board despite the opposing offense constantly trying to pass and run wherever Kyle will not be.
He’ll earn more All-American honors — probably unanimous or at least consensus first team ones, this time — and will without a doubt declare for the 2022 NFL Draft. In that draft, I think he’ll be a top-15 choice, probably top-10; the only limiting factor will be that he doesn’t play QB, OT, or DE, and so he’s simply not at a position typically taken in the top ~3 picks. But he’ll be the first safety off the board and maybe even the first DB taken. You can’t find many more sure-fire NFL studs than Kyle Hamilton.