Darius Hamilton is used to plowing through opposing offensive lines, swatting away the arms that try and hold him back, and viciously targeting a dead-in-the-water quarterback who locks eyes with the All-American defensive end before realizing he will end up being sacked.
Those intense moments come easy to Hamilton, the naturally talented kid who helped Don Bosco Prep’s football team capture a sixth straight Non-Public Group 4 title and second national crown in three years this past fall. Those moments, though, are also fun because he knows his little sister, Karrington, is in the stands cheering the loudest.
“Oh, I was there every game,” said the 15-year-old Karrington, who is a sophomore cheerleader at Mary Help of Christians Academy in North Haledon. “He’s my inspiration. Everything he’s done, he’s my hero. He’s improved so much and I’m really happy he’s going to be close to me next year.”
Darius’ destination for the fall of 2012 was a hot topic for months leading up to the night of January 31, the night before National Signing Day, when he and his family – including his father, former New York Giants standout Keith Hamilton – enjoyed a couple hours on the campus of MSG Varsity in Woodbury, N.Y. before it was announced to the world that Hamilton, the best defensive high school football player in America, will be attending Rutgers.
Even though head coach Greg Schiano moved on to greener pastures in Tampa Bay, the Scarlet Knights were big winners two weeks ago, retaining the commitments of many of the Garden State’s top seniors, most notably Hamilton and his Ironmen teammate Leonte Carroo.
The members of Rutgers Nation rejoiced, snapping out of their intense focus of looking at the television and listening to Mike Quick interview Hamilton, after the standout uttered the words everybody in New Jersey wanted to hear.
Including his little sister.
“He’s funny, he’s smart, he’s breath-taking and amazing on the football field,” Karrington smiled, with her eyes welling up with tears the night of her big brother’s commitment. “It’s hard for me to know he’s leaving. He’s always been there. Darius is my protection. But I’m glad he won’t be too far.”
Want to pat new coach Kyle Flood on the back for keeping Darius interested? Go ahead. The rookie, who talks the talk the way many winners who walk the walk do, certainly deserves it. But credit Hamilton’s little sister for keeping the nation’s most coveted recruit away from Florida, Miami or anywhere else on the map.
“My little sister has always been there for me,” Darius said. “No matter what, we’re best friends. I also have a little six-year-old brother, Myles, at home, so for me to stay home and to watch them grow up, it’s great.”
Karrington, who proudly wore a Rutgers cap just like her brother that night, spoke about the moment when Darius and his close circle heard of Schiano bolting for the NFL. In fact, it taught her even more about her hero.
“Darius heard about Schiano and the first thing he said wasn’t ‘I’m not going to Rutgers now’. No, it was ‘I hope the other coaches’ families are going to be OK.’ That’s the type of person he is. That’s why I always go to his games to root him on. He tries to be the best he can be. His senior year, we were at every game. His junior year, we were at every game.”
As if her pride wasn't oozing off every word already, a twisted-grinned statement summed it all up.
“And what’s really cool is, when you’re Darius Hamilton’s sister, you can get on the field, too.”
Keith Hamilton, who said his kids are the most important people in his life, backed up Karrington’s thoughts, talking his way around football-related questions and offering answers of more importance.
“The thing with Darius is he’s an amazing everyday guy,” he said. “He loves his family, he loves New Jersey and that’s where his heart is. He’s a good young man and if I was someone who wasn’t his father, I’d say you couldn’t ask for a better young man. People know him for football and on the field stuff, but I know him as my son. That’s the best part.”
So the hoopla finally atrophied, the dust finally settled, after Darius Hamilton sent his National Letter of Intent to Rutgers a little over two weeks ago. But his job as being the role-model son and big brother never ends.
Just ask Karrington.
“He’s a strong person. He’s my protection,” she gushed. “When it comes to us, it’s all about family.”
And all this time, we thought weight rooms made football players stronger.
Contact Brian Fitzsimmons at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @FitzWriter