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Scandal didn’t deter Hamilton from Penn State

BY TAFT COGHILL JR.

DaeSean Hamilton insisted all along he would give every college football program that offered him a scholarship a chance to recruit him.

But the Mountain View senior wide receiver said many people didn’t listen. Hamilton said it was assumed he would choose Virginia Tech because of Mountain View’s allegiance to the program.

The Wildcats wear Virginia Tech’s colors. Their athletic director, Greg Margheim, and principal Jim Stemple, are both Virginia Tech graduates.

“A lot of people just thought Tech was going to be the school I was going to pick because of where I went to high school and the people around me there,” Hamilton said. “But I kept trying to tell everybody I didn’t have a favorite and I was going to leave my options open. It was a fair race for anybody.”

Hamilton proved that to be true when he orally committed to Penn State Sunday. The Nittany Lions just finished their first year of four years of probation as a result of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.

They are facing scholarship limitations and three more years of bowl ineligibility. But Hamilton said that didn’t factor into his decision.

“I wouldn’t say I don’t care about what happened, but it doesn’t bother me too much about the probation and bowl bans and anything like that,” Hamilton said. “I just look at the bright side of it: You get to win games and come home for Christmas so it’s not too bad.”

The Nittany Lions were the last of 12 Division I programs to offer Hamilton a scholarship.

Wide receivers coach Stan Hixon attended Mountain View’s 35-13 loss to North Stafford on Sept. 7 one day before Penn State traveled to play Virginia.

Hamilton said Hixon and running backs coach Charles London were major factors in his decision. He said he was also impressed by first-year head coach Bill O’Brien, who guided the Nittany Lions to an 8-4 season after an 0-2 start.

Penn State sophomore wide receiver Allen Robinson served as Hamilton’s host on his official visit this past weekend, and Hamilton and his family were left thoroughly impressed.

“I just loved everything that I saw up there,” Hamilton said. “I loved Coach O’Brien. I think he’s a real good coach. My family loved him. My family loved the campus and I just thought it was the right choice in the end.”

Hamilton said he didn’t expect to leave State College, Pa. as a Penn State commit. But he said he was enamored with the atmosphere and the way “everybody loves the football team.”

Hamilton previously took official visits to Virginia and Wake Forest. He had planned to visit Virginia Tech and either Duke, Miami or Illinois.

“At first I went up there as if it was just another visit,” Hamilton said. “I wasn’t planning on making a decision, but they caught my eye the most.”

Hamilton (6-foot, 182 pounds) now turns his attention to making an impact with the Nittany Lions. He was named Commonwealth District Offensive Player of the Year this past season after recording 64 catches for 1,073 yards and 10 touchdowns.

He suffered a broken collarbone in the Wildcats’ 14-13 win over Potomac in the Northwest Region, Division 5 semifinals and didn’t play in the regional championship game loss to North Stafford.

Hamilton said he’s in the fourth week of a six-to-eight week recovery. He plans to resume a training regimen in two weeks.

Attrition at Penn State and the scholarship reductions could open the door for immediate playing time.

“I know there aren’t too many kids in front of me at my position,” Hamilton said. “But I’m still going to go up there like there’s no easy way [to get on the field.]”

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