Up Close: Jon Hamlett, Part II

<I>IC</I> recruiting writer Andy Britt is touring the countryside to visit each and every UNC football commitment. Look for his unique two-part profiles all season long. Today -- the second installment on Jon Hamlett.

(Click here for Part I, which ran yesterday.)


A popular theory is that prep athletes show the most improvement between the eighth and ninth grade, and the tenth and eleventh grade. It is a philosophy that Browning believes in. He is keeping an eye on the season Hamlett is having.

"I was talking to Coach Browning yesterday, and we both agree, those are the big jumps," Smith said. "He was telling me that he goes back and re-evaluates everyone in the fall, because you see so much improvement.

According to Smith, Hamlett has always had excellent hands and good movement. His lateral movement skills have gotten much better, and recently, he has seen a noticeable improvement in Hamlett's drive blocking techniques.

"He can come down and crack block and block the smaller outside linebackers, the free safeties and corners," Smith said. "There again, that goes with his speed and lateral movement."

Smith said Hamlett reminds him former UNC stars Freddie Jones (Arizona Cardinals) and Alge Crumpler (Atlanta Falcons).

"He reminds me of those types of kids," Smith said. "He's a big kid that can move very well."

Nearly all the Atlantic Coast Conference schools showed interest in Hamlett, as well as Florida and Tennessee.

"I was kind of patient," Hamlett said. "A lot of people were pulling at me. ‘Where are you going to go? What are you going to do?' I didn't say much.

Smith utilizes his experience at the college level and is extremely careful when it comes to the recruiting of his players. While at Virginia, Smith visited prep players, so he has experienced both sides of the process.

"There is only one person that recruits here in this high school and that's me; nobody else," Smith said. "I just don't want somebody to slip up and say something wrong to hurt one of my athletes. That's nothing against my staff; they just don't know. I've been there."

Hamlett said he just listened to what Smith was telling him.

"He just told me to play hard, work hard, and everything will work out for you," Hamlett said.

Hamlett is a co-captain for the Cavaliers and their vocal leader. He had several difficult years to put his life and football in perspective. Early in his career, his mother was close to death until a kidney transplant saved her.

Often some athletes use sports to forget about life's pain, but Hamlett said his mind was always on his mother. She is fine now thanks to a timely organ donation.

With that ordeal behind him, Hamlett came to Junior Day at Carolina. It was then, in a Kenan Football Center bathroom, that Browning made the official offer.

"I wasn't expecting it," Hamlett said. "It didn't hit me until I was going home that was where I wanted to go."

On March 29, Hamlett accepted the offer and committed to the Tar Heels.

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