MOUNTAINSIDE, N.J. – Five-star defensive lineman Darius Hamilton named Rutgers his top choice months ago.
After the summer as he prepares for training camp with Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.), Rutgers remains his leader. But for the first time, Hamilton has a more concrete reason than simply saying Rutgers is the only school he has visited among his finalists.
"I love the coaches, I love the players, I love the atmosphere," Hamilton said at teammate Leonte Carroo's commitment party Saturday night. "I love the players. They're great with communication. It's just an all-around place that I love."
Hamilton was all smiles when Carroo chose Rutgers.
Carroo, who chose Rutgers last month but kept things quiet, let Hamilton in on the secret last week to try to influence his friend to come to Piscataway.
"It's really exciting," Hamilton said. "Growing up with Leonte since freshman year, he's become one of my best friends. I think he made the right decision.
"Rutgers is getting a really good player that's for sure. He's the best kind of teammate and it's good that he's joining [Gary Nova] and [Paul Canevari]. I think he'll be big in influencing other Jersey guys. He has that kind of personality."
Hamilton said he is down to five or six schools and trying to get his official visits figured out. Because of his close relationship with Rutgers, he will not take an official visit there.
Florida, California and Oregon were all in Hamilton's plans this summer, but he cancelled his visits because of a busy schedule at Don Bosco.
Hamilton said will visit Cal and Florida and "probably" Tennessee before his decision, with Alabama being the distant sixth school in his recruitment.
When asked about how he will announce his decision, Hamilton referenced St. Peters Prep and Rutgers commit Michael Giacone, who had a small ceremony with family and friends in his backyard.
"The schedule is really tough this year and if I get all the visits that I want to get done, I will commit in October," Hamilton said. "But if not, I'll do it after the season."
Through the entire process, Hamilton, whose father is former New York Giant Keith Hamilton, said finding a place where he feels at home and can play at a high level.
Hamilton said he has the best relationships with Rutgers, Florida, Tennessee and California. He grew up as a Gator fan.
"Florida has a great coaching staff that I've built a strong relationship with," he said. "I'm just really eager to get out there and see what else Florida is about, but like I said before, I really love Rutgers. No matter where I go, I will always love that school. Even if I don't pick Rutgers, I have at least three teammates there and some great relationships."
With Rutgers, Hamilton said Carroo's commitment will not be "a huge factor" in his own decision.
"College is definitely one of those things you have to decide for yourself," he said. "It would be a great opportunity to play with my old high school teammates, but at the end of the day, you're the one spending four years there. It's about how you feel about the place. But I still like Rutgers. Like I've said before, they're my top choice right now."
Hamilton said he wants to come to a Rutgers practice, but is not sure of a date because of Don Bosco's heavy workload.
Five-Star Hamilton Talks Leader, Visits
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