This Friday’s game against A&M Consolidated is somewhat of a full circle moment for Tony Hamilton.
Last year as a junior, the game against the Tigers was the first time that the Cougar safety got to re-live his days at running back on the varsity level.
In that game, Hamilton had five carries for 16 yards and a touchdown. He didn’t know it then, but that game began a stretch, where he found the end zone in six-straight games.
“It was fun,” Hamilton said of playing running back last season. “It brought me back to my freshman days and all the days before that, even when I was little, scoring five touchdowns a game when I was little. It was just fun.”
That’s because Hamilton is one of the few Cougars that plays both ways. The College Station senior’s main position on the field is safety, but when the call comes in from offensive coordinator Matt DeBerry, Hamilton is right back out, in the backfield.
People are also reading…
Last season, what started out as needing some help in the backfield, turned into Hamilton rushing 30 times for 157 yards and nine touchdowns. He did all that in seven games. At the same time, Hamilton had 131 tackles, 10 pass deflections and four interceptions in 15 games as a starting safety for the Cougars.
“[Tony] does a tremendous job carrying the football,” College Station defensive coordinator Chance Locklear said. “He’s a very physical kid, which you see on the defensive side of the ball all the time, but his football IQ and his instincts are really what allow him to be successful doing both.”
What made last season even more impressive was that his junior season was Hamilton’s first as a starter at safety. Before that, he had played linebacker and running back growing up and even played both of those spots on the freshman team.
As a sophomore though, he made the switch over to safety. Although, he admits, it started out with him sarcastically throwing out the idea.
“Actually I was just messing around with coach [Jarrett Beckhusen] about it like after freshman year because [the coaches] were like now you got to choose one side of the ball like offense or defense,” Hamilton said. Hamilton came into his own to choose safety and on the first day. Ever since, he’s held a hold on the spot.
That sophomore season, Hamilton made the jump to varsity, playing on the second string defense in 2021. He didn’t play as much as he probably would have liked, but he got plenty of valuable experience getting to learn from the older guys.
Hamilton credits former Cougars Byron Johnson (current Lafayette University player) and Kyle Walsh (current Texas A&M player) for helping him out at safety.
“It was very helpful because they already knew what they were doing and I didn’t know what I was doing,” Hamilton said. “I’m just listening, learning, watching all that I can soak in to be the better safety that I am today.”
Those teachings and experience from being behind Walsh and Johnson were a big help going into his junior season for Hamilton. He had no doubts he’d be a starter as a junior, since he had been paying attention to those guys too much for it not to happen.
Not to mention the work that he puts in each off-season.
“God gave me a gift, but the gift that he gave me I still work on it a lot,” Hamilton said. “Off-season, I just grind, work on the little things not the big things and when I work on the little things I get even better at the bigger things so it just all comes together.”
And not only will this game be somewhat of a full circle moment for Hamilton, but this year has also been one. He’s no longer the sophomore learning behind guys as he is now the veteran safety giving out advice.
“Even when he’s not in, he’s always right there,” Locklear said. “If he has questions, he’s asking questions or even this year more he’s coaching the kids behind him. He’s had some injuries and some different things, which have caused him to miss some time but he’s always been a vocal leader in those games where all week at practice, he’s talking to whoever’s going to be playing his spot.”