Hamilton targets starting at safety
By DAVID HALE
ATHENS, Ga. — They call him The Hit Man. It’s a moniker Georgia’s new safety, Jakar Hamilton, earned, and it’s one he takes seriously.
“I’m one of those players who just doesn’t care,” Hamilton said. “I’ll throw my whole body even if I have to break something to do it. If I have to catch a concussion, I’ll do it.”
The transfer from Georgia Military College never really wanted to be a football player. He cried when his father first told him he had to give the sport a try. But after he got a taste for it, Hamilton was hooked.
Most of those early years on the football field were spent at running back and receiver, where Hamilton’s athleticism was put to use on the offensive side of the field. At GMC, however, he found that delivering the hits was more enjoyable than being on the receiving end.
And Hamilton delivered plenty of big hits.
“At GMC, I was trying to big-hit everybody,” Hamilton said. “I’ve sat down and watched tapes on Brian Dawkins, Ronnie Lott. I tried to sit down and imitate everything they do.”
Hamilton has taken a similar approach to his first few weeks on campus at Georgia.
In the weight room, in the classroom and around campus, he has pegged the people doing things well, and he is following suit.
“We’ve been spending a lot of time together,” Georgia safety Bacarri Rambo said. “We’ve been shooting hoops together, lifting weights together. We’re in the same workout group, and he’s shown his competitiveness by trying to compete with me, do the same amount of weight as me.”
Hamilton isn’t interested in the requisite adjustment period that usually accompanies those first few chaotic months in a new environment.
He wants to hit the ground running. That means extra hours in the weight room. It means that, despite his reputation as a big hitter, Hamilton is spending time studying when to deliver the heavy blows and when to play it safe. That means earning his way onto the field sooner rather than later.
When former defensive coordinator Willie Martinez recruited him from GMC, Hamilton was told that a starting job might be in the cards from the outset. Senior Bryan Evans was graduating, Martinez told him, and there was a good chance junior safety Reshad Jones would leave early for the NFL.
That’s exactly what happened, and although Martinez is gone — replaced by Todd Grantham last week — Hamilton’s goals haven’t changed.
“I knew nobody was going to give me a starting position,” Hamilton said. “I knew I was going to have to come in and work hard and earn that starting position, and that’s what I’m doing now.”
The early results have been promising, Rambo said. Hamilton’s energy and enthusiasm are obvious — but it’s his skill set that’s even more impressive.
In a pick-up basketball game Hamilton’s first week in Athens, he showed off his athleticism with an alley-oop dunk that forced Rambo and a few of Georgia’s other best part-time hoopsters’ jaws to drop.
“He’s so athletic,” Rambo said. “He has a lot of potential to be a great player. When we’re playing basketball, we’re dunking, shooting. And the way he talks, he has a great mind-set, and all that will come through on the field.”
Credit Hamilton’s background. He has one brother, Demetri Goodson, who is a sophomore guard on the Gonzaga basketball team. Another brother, Mike Goodson, just wrapped up his rookie season at tailback for the Carolina Panthers. Sports is in Hamilton’s blood, and the competition always has been tough.
But it was his time at GMC that helped make him a complete player on and off the field. The rules were strict, and the standards were high, which has made the adjustment to life in Athens a breeze in comparison.
“I got my way through there, and now I’m here, so the hard work is starting to pay off,” Hamilton said. “But I’m still working.”
Hamilton always has felt the need to live up to the highest of standards — whether keeping pace with his brothers or keeping the disciplinarians at GMC at bay.
And now that he is at Georgia, he has set a new goal for himself and his new workout partner.
Every day in the weight room, Hamilton and Rambo discuss who the best safety duo in the SEC might be. The conversation continues long after they leave the gym.
Right now, it’s a question that’s up for debate. By the end of the 2010 season, however, Hamilton said he doesn’t want there to be any doubters. It will be the duo at Georgia: Rambo and The Hit Man.
“Living up to Hit Man, people are expecting me to come here and be like (former Bulldogs) Greg Blue and Thomas Davis, and that’s what I’m trying to do,” Hamilton said. “I’m trying to work hard, get bigger, hit harder, just like those two guys, so, when I leave, everybody knows that I was The Hit Man.”