• Stats: Credited with 45 tackles, a sack and four interceptions as a junior for the Vikings. Also caught seven passes for 155 yards and three touchdowns. Scored eight touchdowns – two rushing, three receiving, two on interceptions and one on a fumble return.
• Assets: Aggressive, spring-loaded press corner with free-and-easy flip of the hips. Energetic, attacking defensive player who consistently plays in a good football position with a natural bend of the knees and an explosive break out of his backpedal. Shows a natural inclination to be around the football and make plays. Knows how to use inside position on receiver to his advantage while using the sideline as an ally. Outstanding body control and foot/make-up speed.
More physical than his size indicates. Uses his hands to his advantage to take on/get off blocks. An aggressive, dynamic run-supporter. Plays with a strong, wide base against the run, making it difficult to throw him off balance as he breaks down into a football position. A consistent square-up-and-wrap run defender. Also has knack for negotiating traffic as he moves laterally and finds path to ball carrier/receiver.
Appears to have experience disguising coverages, diagnosing formations/play-trends, and reacting decisively and aggressively. Elusive punt-return skills. Also shows the ability to take the top off a defense and present a downfield threat as a wideout. An alert, exuberant, passionate football player.
• Room for improvement: Not much to critique other than he’ll obviously need to slap on some pounds to a longish frame. Overall size and strength, particularly upper body, needed. Sometimes has difficulty timing and extending his jump to defend the pass when he has to play catch-up to the receiver.
• Top schools of interest: Notre Dame; ACC: Clemson, Miami, Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech; Big Ten: Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State; Big 12: Oklahoma, West Virginia; Pac 12: UCLA; SEC: Auburn.
• Early line: Hamlin has a fairly expansive list of considerations with a national selection and a cross-section of conference affiliations.
Most believe Ohio State is the frontrunner, although he made a visit to Penn State in mid-July, talks frequently about hometown Pittsburgh, and has declared an interest in taking official visits to UCLA and Miami.
Other schools under consideration are Notre Dame – where he visited last weekend as well as for junior day in the spring – Stanford, Clemson, Michigan State, Virginia Tech, Tennessee and Auburn.
• Summary: This is an incredibly skilled, gifted cornerback prospect who has all the coverage/run support qualities one looks for in a complete, dual-threat cornerback. What he lacks in overall strength at the present time, he compensates with a real natural feel for the game and the explosive tendencies necessary to recover from the space created by wide receivers and running backs.
This young man has five-star recovery skills against the pass. When you think you’ve created separation from him, he quickly and seamlessly closes the gap. He plays the game with supreme confidence in his skills while showing consistency in his passion and approach to the game.
The majority of recruiting prognosticators would say that Ohio State is the odds-on favorite to win the battle for Hamlin’s services. Hometown Pittsburgh probably ranks right upthere with the Buckeyes. And yet Hamlin has openly talked about UCLA and Penn State as definite official visits, and he just returned from Notre Dame, which was his second visit this year. His list of considerations is more diverse than most recruits who tend to lean toward one section of the country or a particular conference. Hamlin is checking all the boxes in his recruitment.
If you’re looking for difference-makers at the cornerback position, look no further than Hamlin, whose overall package of cornerback skills is not accurately depicted by Scout’s No. 221 overall ranking. He’s better than that.