Hamilton earns time in spotlight vs. TCU

Tim May
Ohio State defensive tackle Davon Hamilton, a Pickerington Central product, holds the ball aloft in celebration after recovering a fumble in the end zone by TCU quarterback Shawn Robinson, giving the Buckeyes an early 10-0 lead. [Joshua A. Bickel]

Now that Davon Hamilton has put his name on the college football map — with the fumble he recovered in the end zone last Saturday night in AT&T Stadium marking the spot — it’s time to pronunciate his first name correctly.

“It’s Duh-VON,” he clarified after practice Tuesday. Not “Day-von”, as ESPN’s Chris Fowler declared on Saturday night.

But that’s no offense to Fowler. Until this season, there hadn’t been much reason to know the pronunciation. A fourth-year junior from Pickerington Central, Hamilton had been toiling behind the scenes, gaining snippets of playing time here and there, but never doing enough to be a cause celebre.

>>Video: Ohio State's Davon Hamilton puts name on the map

Then came his big play in the 40-28 win over TCU. Opportunity knocked in the form of a football — stripped from the grip of TCU quarterback Shawn Robinson by Nick Bosa — rolling around the end zone. Fellow defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones made a try for it, but Hamilton was the one who corralled it for a TD that gave OSU an early 10-0 lead.

Jones got his touchdown in the third quarter on an interception return, a pivotal play in the come-from-behind win for the Buckeyes. But Jones was just as happy for Hamilton, who has suddenly blossomed this year.

“He’s always had it; it was always like a confidence issue” that kept his talent from coming to the fore, Jones said. “Sometimes he’d just show it out of nowhere, and then he’d pull back. But I think this year he’s just really letting it go.”

Hamilton agreed, adding “really, for the last couple of years, along with, like, (seeking) confidence, I feel like I’ve been out of shape a lot, and just not knowing what I’m type things. Really, it helps a lot when you come out and play a game, because game speed is a lot faster than any practice or conditioning test.”

He has trimmed down from the fleshy 315 pounds at which he showed up four years ago to a more muscular 310, adding the strength to the size needed to play in the A gap area. He proved that against stout competition last week, but he said that’s in the past, even if it did bring him some celebrity.

“I’m not going to say my life changed any,” Hamilton said. “Either way, I’ve still got to play good” against Tulane on Saturday.

But he also knows “There are so many people rooting for me, everybody wants to see you do better since you’re from central Ohio.”

Coach Urban Meyer has seen the change in Hamilton, whom the Buckeyes signed as a late offer in the 2015 recruiting class.

“He and (defensive line coach) Larry Johnson have really worked well together,” Meyer said. “Really a nonfactor early in his career, but you could see talent, and he comes from a really good family. He is one of our most improved players.”

Hamilton’s rise has come at an opportune time for a defense that now must play for a week or maybe more without its most celebrated player, defensive end Nick Bosa, who suffered a lower abdominal/groin strain in the win over TCU. In fact, the line stepped up immediately after Bosa left early in the third quarter.

“It’s really competitive excellence,” Hamilton said of the motto. “You can’t be down because somebody else is down. As good as he is, we’ve really got to keep on picking it up.

“We’ve got players on the team that are talented. You wouldn’t come here if you weren’t talented. So you’ve just got to step up.”


Listen to the BuckeyeXtra Football podcast: