By DARRYL MAXIE / firstname.lastname@example.org
The word Georgia fans have been waiting to hear came in a noontime announcement Saturday at an Augusta restaurant: Junior college All-America safety Jakar Hamilton is committing to the Bulldogs, becoming the team’s 14th commitment from the recruiting class of 2010.
Hamilton, 6 feet 1 1/2 and 205 pounds, earned first-team National Junior College Athletic Association All-America honors after recording 50 tackles, four interceptions and eight pass breakups as a freshman last season for Georgia Military College.
A graduate of Strom Thurmond High in Johnston, S.C., Hamilton originally had designs on attending South Carolina. But he failed to qualify academically and was advised to go to the Milledgeville school instead.
Auburn, Illinois, N.C. State and Tulsa also offered Hamilton, but he narrowed his choices to Georgia and Alabama as the recruiting process reached its conclusion. Three weeks ago, he decided it would be Georgia, but waited to make the announcement.
“Really, it was the coaches and the academics,” Hamilton told the AJC Saturday. “The coaches are great, the facilities are great, but the coaches really wanted to know me as a person. The fans of Georgia are just ridiculous.”
When Georgia offered to pay for his master’s degree as well, Hamilton was sold.
“Once they told me that if I went pro and wanted to come back and get my master’s that they would pay for it, that showed me the character of their coaches right there,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton gives the Dogs their third defensive back from the Class of 2010, along with Newnan’s Alec Ogletree and Derek Owens of Jacksonville, Fla.
“I think they’re going to get not just a total player but a total person, the kind of guy who you want to be in your program,” GMC coach Bert Williams said. “He clearly gets it done on the field. He’s got the tools to be an outstanding player, whether it’s the SEC, ACC, Big 12 or whatever. He’s got a good work ethic, he’s mentally tough and he’s a competitor. He does everything you want him to do — he’s worked hard in the classroom, not just to get by but to excel.”
The fact that Georgia wears red and black didn’t hurt. “Red and black, those are my favorite colors,” Hamilton said.
Turning down Alabama was tough, though.
“It was hard to tell Coach Kirby [Smart, the defensive coordinator],” Hamilton said. “Alabama’s a great school with great coaches. I can’t take nothing from them. So big ups to Alabama, I want them to have a good season.”