Editor’s Note: Buchholz High School senior wide receiver Jaren Hamilton has written the following first-person story to announce where he’ll play college football.
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Hamilton had 38 catches for 847 yards and 14 touchdowns to go along with two interceptions and one kickoff return for a touchdown during Buchholz' first 12 games of the season. He is rated a four-star recruit and the No. 37 wide receiver in the nation on the 247Sports composite rankings.
Hamilton received more than a dozen Power 5 offers, including Alabama, Florida, Michigan, Michigan State, Ole Miss, Tennessee and USC.
Getting college paid for and playing sports at the next level, that’s always been my dream.
The summer of my sophomore year, I got my first offer, and I had a talk with my old head coach. Where I’m at right now is where he predicted I would be. After we had that talk, I thought, “Maybe this could really be something.” That’s when it all started.
I always felt like I could do it. Growing up in Gainesville, I was always watching the Gators. Even in elementary school, going to the games, I thought, “I’m going to be out there one day.” It was always reachable to me. I just had to go out there and prove it.
That first offer was from Florida. It was crazy. Even when Dan Mullen first offered me it didn’t hit me. We were talking face-to-face, and he told me I had an offer. But later on, I just sat there and thought, “I really got an offer from Florida!” It was crazy and a lot of feelings rushed in, just thinking about all the opportunity that came with it. I knew stuff was going to start changing. I just had to keep my head on straight. You hear stories about people going down the wrong path and I didn’t want to do that. It was just humbling to get that recognition from my hometown team.
Early on I got a Michigan offer and Michigan State had just offered me, too. I ended up taking both visits. That’s when things really started to pick up. That was during the midst of spring ball in May. There was a lot of traffic at school, coaches from all over the country came to see me.
I’ve never been a big camp guy. I did 7-on-7’s with my team. But I’d been in talks with Alabama. They’d seen my film and they liked what they saw, but they said they needed to see it live. I went to Bama and I knew I had to get that offer, no matter what drills or whatever I was facing. I ran the 40 and I clocked in at 4.4 (seconds) flat. Drills were good. 1 on 1s, I showed out, getting every rep I could, talking to coaches as much as I could and getting advice.
After we got done on the field, I was in the trophy room and a couple of the assistant coaches came up to me and told me I had a meeting with Coach Saban. I was like, “Snap! It’s Coach Saban!” We talked in his office, and he told me I had an offer. Ever since then, everything just changed. That’s when a lot of schools started hitting me up again. USC offered. It put a big spotlight on me and I’m thankful for that.
Before I announce, I want to thank my mom and my dad. I also want to than my old head coach, Kevin Doelling, and my new head coach, Coach Whitt. I want to thank my brother, Brandon Hamilton, too. They’ve always been there for me good and bad, being understanding of situations and helping me be a better version of myself.
It’s time. I’m excited to join the family …
It’s just my comfort level with the coaches, their play style, everything with the school when I went there on my visit. It didn’t feel like foreign territory. It felt like home.
Year in and year out, their wide receivers produce consistently. It’s not like they have one good year and then there’s this drop-off. The proof is in the pudding. It doesn’t get better than that. At Bama you only need one good, solid year and you make it to the NFL. That’s the ultimate goal for me.
Even when they replace offensive coordinators, this coach or that coach, the culture is still there. The fabric is still there. There’s no real changing. The same treatment Julio Jones got is what I can receive.
To be the best I got to play with the best.
And I believe my best shot for that is at Alabama.
This article originally appeared on The Gainesville Sun: Exclusive: Buchholz 4-star WR Jaren Hamilton announces college choice