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December 19, 2012

Hamilton set for bowl game, important off-season





Darius Hamilton arrived at Rutgers as the most heralded recruit in program history, a player deemed destined to contribute on the field from day one.

Head coach Kyle Flood targeted Hamilton before training camp as one of the newcomers who would have an impact from the outset. One week into camp, he shifted Hamilton from defensive end inside to the 3-tech, which meant Hamilton would have the opportunity to play his customary defensive tackle from the beginning of his career.

Hamilton has been a cog in the defensive line rotation for the Scarlet Knights, playing in all 12 games and registering 17 tackles. He often is inserted into the lineup for the second defensive series of each contest, lining up alongside backup nose tackle Kenneth Kirksey.

While he gained valuable experience and made some plays this fall, one factor held Hamilton back from reaching top form: his weight. During the regular season, his playing weight hovered in the 245-250-pound range when 15 to 20 pounds heavier would have been more optimal.

A red-shirt season likely would have allowed Hamilton to reach his goal-weight, but he said he has no issue with how he was utilized.

"I feel like if I can help, then I want to be out there," he said following Tuesday's practice. "I never said that redshirting was a terrible thing. If that's what they wanted me to do, then that's what I would have done. But they saw me as a player who could have came in and contributed and that's what I've done.

"I've loved every second of it. I never regretted it."

While he may harbor no regrets, Hamilton also holds no doubts as to what he needs to do to further tap into his potential next season.

"I just want to get bigger," he said. "I feel like once I get bigger, everything will come to me. Because I feel like the game's there. I play the position well. I just have to get bigger."

In-season, Hamilton said the grind of practice made it impossible for him to bulk up. He instead made it a point to maintain the weight he already had.

Once he has an off-season full of time on his side, he's confident the results will come.

"I'm going to take care of my business. I've been known to take care of my business," he said. "That's what I'm going to do in this off-season. I'm going to come back bigger and stronger.

"Coach Cole, the whole strength and conditioning staff, we've sat down and had meetings. We've talked about how we want to attack this. Don't gain it too fast but we're going to put the weight on the right way."

Before that can be attended to, there is the matter of the Russell Athletic Bowl next Friday. A win over Virginia Tech would give the Scarlet Knights just the third 10-win season in program history, and Hamilton is enjoying his first month of bowl preparation.

"It's a lot of fun. I think everybody's prepared for this. Everybody wants to go out and get these 10 wins, wants to send the seniors off on a good note. So we're looking forward to it."


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