The ball was bouncing just a little bit. Nick Bosa had just raced around TCU’s left tackle and grabbed the right arm of quarterback Shawn Robinson at the goal line, knocking the ball free.
There it was, bouncing toward the back of the end zone, already at the top of the purple “U” in the TCU logo painted there.
Dre’Mont Jones was the first Buckeye to arrive, but he couldn’t bring it in, flying over the ball. This was Davon Hamilton’s moment.
Hamilton came to Ohio State from Pickerington North High School in suburban Columbus. He was ranked as the 998th-best prospect nationally, and the No. 46 player in the state in the 2015 class.
Guys ranked ahead of him committed to schools like Cincinnati, Toledo, and Ohio. Hamilton was committed to play for Kentucky, but wanted to be a Buckeye.
Ohio State offered him a scholarship less than two weeks after winning the national championship. National Signing Day was less than two weeks away. Hamilton jumped at it immediately.
“I believed in myself. When I came here, I knew I could play here at this level,” Hamilton said Tuesday. “I knew maybe not the first year that I came in just because we had so much talent up front, but eventually I’m going to have my own day when I’m out there.”
He redshirted as a true freshman in 2015, and then played sparingly as a backup in 2016 and 2017.
This spring, when reporters asked players who on the team was standing out, Hamilton’s name came up repeatedly.
Tuesday, Urban Meyer singled Hamilton out again for his improvement.
“Him and Larry Johnson have really worked well together,” Meyer said. “He is one of our most improved players. Really a non-factor early in his career, but you could see talent.”
In a defensive tackle unit loaded with highly-ranked recruits, Hamilton’s background and slow start suggested “career backup” was a likely outcome.
But he has turned himself into a regular member of the rotation at nose tackle. This week, he’s listed as a co-starter there with Robert Landers.
Hamilton said that it was a process to get to this point.
“Really my confidence in doing what I have to do. And also people helping me, like Dre’Mont (Jones) and Nick (Bosa), they all helped me out before. And it’s a thing that helped me improve a lot more,” he said.
Hamilton said he was uncertain what to do at times earlier in his career, and that held him back.
“Understanding your job and what you have to do helps you play a lot faster,” Hamilton said. “If you don’t know what you’re doing, obviously you can see younger players go out there and you see more hesitant moves. Going out knowing what you have to do helps you play a lot faster.”
Saturday night in Arlington, Hamilton understood his job. He had to get the football before anyone else did.
With TCU offensive linemen closing in from both sides, Hamilton launched himself in the air and fell on the ball, sliding to a stop just short of the back line of the end zone.
He had been waiting for his moment since signing with the Buckeyes, and now he finally had it.
“It was a big moment for me, but really, the opportunity wouldn’t have been there if it wasn’t for Nick (Bosa forcing the fumble). I’m really proud of both of us, really,” he said.
After the game, Hamilton said his phone was blowing up with calls and texts. He said he spent the bus ride to the airport on Facetime with family and friends.
“Being from Central Ohio, definitely a lot of the fans, a lot of old teammates, a lot of old coaches hit me up. It was a cool experience,” he said.
With a touchdown to his credit, and a co-starting spot on the depth chart, Hamilton is a much bigger name on campus than he was a few months ago.
Now he knows the entire defensive line will have to pick up the slack after the loss of an even bigger name – Nick Bosa.
“We can’t be down because somebody else is down. As good as he is, we’ve got to keep on picking it up,” Hamilton said. “We have players on the team, everybody’s talented here. You wouldn’t come here if you weren’t talented.”
It was a td not a safety like the tv guys said.
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