Hamilton Is Doing His Homework

Notre Dame will have two tight ends from Ohio on their roster next fall and it appears that Brian Kelly wants to add a third in Ray Hamilton of Strongsville High School (Ohio). Hamilton recently received a scholarship offer from Notre Dame and he's planning on taking a visit to South Bend this spring.

Tight end Ray Hamilton (6-foot-5, 230-pounds) was a recruiting target for Notre Dame when Charlie Weis was the head coach, but that hasn't changed now that Brian Kelly is in charge of the Notre Dame football program.

"I was hearing from them back with the old staff, so I made a few visits up there," Hamilton recalled. "I went to their camp last summer, and I came to the game against Boston College. Coach Kelly's staff was recruiting me from when they were at Cincinnati, and when they got to Notre Dame I heard from them almost immediately.

"When coach Warinner got there from Kansas he talked to my coach. I was told to give him a call. We talked and then he let me know Monday night that Notre Dame was going to offer me a scholarship to play football there. It was definitely an exciting thing, because I've been through a long process with Notre Dame."

Despite Hamilton's early connection with the former coaching staff at Notre Dame, adding Brian Kelly and his new staff may pay dividends for the Irish.

"The coaching change there doesn't have much of an impact on my decision, because first you have to look at the school itself," Hamilton explained. "For this coaching staff to offer, they truly believe that I'm a good enough player to play for their team. I really am humbled by that, and appreciate it. The coaching change isn't really a concern of mine at all. Getting to know some of coach Kelly's staff while they were recruiting at Cincinnati is definitely a plus, because I got to build a relationship with a few of the coaches there and now that they're at Notre Dame… it's pretty cool.

"Notre Dame definitely speaks for itself in terms of the rich tradition what they have there and the degree that you get when you graduate. You definitely have to earn it, but at the same time it's a special degree that you can take it and apply it in your life after football, be very successful and set up our future very brightly.

"The football program the past couple years hasn't been up to their standards, but coach Kelly is a great coach and he'll turn things around," he said. "It's not easy to play at a place like Notre Dame, because there are the high standards, but that's a spotlight you have to love and thrive under that ultimately makes you work harder every day.

With over 17 scholarship offers from the likes of Boston College, California, Cincinnati, Colorado, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Pittsburgh, Stanford West Virginia, and Wisconsin, and West Virginia Hamilton is going to have plenty of options when he navigates the recruiting process.

"I have an open mind, but at the same time, when the schools are recruiting me and I have in mind how they use the tight end and the academic reputation," Ray said "But at the same time I'm doing a lot of research in my spare time. I do my homework at night, but I realize how important decision this is, so I have research these schools. I don't want to throw away a school just because they aren't a big name, or put a big-name school immediately to the top. I want to do this the right way and get educated on these schools and then go from there. I want to look at the pros and cons, just like my dad has taught me since I was little.

"I plan on making some visits and get out and get a feel for these campuses and build relationships with the coaches and see what is best for me. Doing all the research is all helpful, you really can't get a feel for the campus or a feel for the coaches until you're sitting down with them in person and walking around campus and things of that nature that can really benefit you in the recruiting process."

Brian Kelly has shown that he loves to recruit big athletes that can play several positions. Hamilton certainly fits that mold, but he's believes the Irish like his potential at tight end and is hoping they can show him how they intend to utilize the tight end in Kelly's offense.

"When I was talking to coach Warinner we were talking about when I come to visit, that we'd get into the film room and break down how coach Kelly used the tight ends at Cincinnati or how he plans to use them at Notre Dame. When I come up for spring practice I'll want to see how involved the tight ends are. I know he has a good one to use right now, Kyle Rudolph. You can't go without using a guy like that who's one of the top three if not the best tight ends in the country right now. It will definitely be interesting to see how he transitions his offense and then adds in a dynamic player like Kyle Rudolph.

"I definitely have plans to make it to South Bend this spring, whether it's for the junior day March 20, or just coming up and watching a practice and sitting down in the meeting rooms and sitting down with the coaches and getting to see the campus again. Me, my parents and coach Warinner are going to figure out which date is best and make a special visit. When it comes to this visit you want to make it special so that it sticks out to you. "

In six games, Hamilton pulled in 22 balls for 300 yards and one touchdown.

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